Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 13, 2005
Transform our approach
By MARY PRINGLE
Special to the WCR
We are all so very familiar with the story of the woman who touched Jesus' cloak and was healed of a severe bleeding disorder that she had suffered for 12 years (Mark 5:4-34).
I have always longed to be this woman who touched the hem of Christ's garment, having suffered from severe and chronic illness for years.
Perhaps it was in identifying so much with her circumstances, that I missed the profound message that this simple story teaches us about the Eucharist.
An internal struggle
Finding myself alone in a chapel during my first introduction to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, I struggled to resist the temptation to touch the host that was exposed.
A great surge of desire flowed from within me. "If only I could touch you as she did, power would flow out from you and I, too, would be healed."
This struggle consumed the better part of an hour, wondering why this would be different from touching the Eucharist at Mass, except perhaps that in the Communion line we are so often rushed.
The longing to reach out and touch the host persisted until a deep voice broke my thoughts and resonated somewhere within me: "Do you really have to touch me, Mary?"
I was so ashamed. Here I was sitting in his very presence, is that not enough of a blessing?
Little did I know that this was the preparation that opened my eyes to the deep mystery of the Eucharist that had eluded me in this simple story.
Although crowds of people had touched Jesus that day, power only flowed out to one.
So, why not the rest?
How come millions of people line up to receive the Eucharist week after week and are never changed by it, while others are visibly transformed by the same experience? How might I expect to receive healing from the host in the chapel if I'm not healed from the same host I receive at Mass?
All of a sudden the answer leapt before me: it's all in our approach.
The crowds touched Jesus without paying attention, without deliberation and without expectation, similar to how many of us have received Communion in our lives.
For this woman, there was nothing routine about entering a crowd, as she was considered "unclean." She was risking her life approaching the Lord.
She carefully considered each step, and approached with great deliberation, hope and expectation. The power was there for the receiving, as she was healed moments before Jesus turned and declared that her faith had made her well.
Although she was well aware that she had been healed, it was for our sakes that Jesus spoke. He was giving us a model to follow, the narrow road to lead us away from the casual flow of the crowd.
Every Mass is a banquet of grace for those who approach the Eucharist with anticipation, hope and trust. The healing is there for the asking.
I, for one, now take the long way around so I can be in the back of the Communion line. This gives me more time to contemplate each deliberate step I take towards the Blessed Sacrament and to make my personal act of faith and hope as I approach. The slower the line, the better.
The transformation is real and visible, perhaps not always receiving the healing we ask for, but always receiving the healing we need.
The story is simple, but the message is profound: the healing is within our reach.
If the Eucharist is not transforming our lives, we need to transform our approach.
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