My devotional reading last week included these verses from the fifth chapter of Mark and for better or worse or indifferent (probably the latter two) I thought I would share some of my thoughts.
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
31"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "
32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
"If I just touch his clothes" the woman says. She needs no signs, no proof, no actual presence, she need only touch his clothes. What faith. She did not need the God/Man himself but only the accouterments, the trappings if you will, such was the strength of her faith that God was indeed present in this place and time; her place and time.
Would that we had such faith in "the robes of God". In its most obvious forms the robes of God are the Church and her sacraments and ministers of the Gospel. Father Gabriel Amorth, former Chief Exorcist of Rome, lists in his book, An Exorcist Tells His Story, seven main ways that the devil can harm humans: temptation, pain, possession, oppression, obsession, infestation and subjugation. When avoidance of sin fails the remedy he recommends are "the robes of God" i.e. repentance and confession. Also highly recommended: prayer, the sacraments, living according to the Gospel, and refusing to bear grudges. God has given us the Church as the primary instrument of His salvation till he returns. Would that we had the faith to trust it to heal us.
I often hear it said that we are the hands and feet of Christ. While I appreciate the sentiment behind the saying, I find it on the whole, rather distasteful, for it seems to render Christ impotent without our assistance. God will have His way with us with or without our assistance. Part of the Good News is that He seeks us out to be part of His healing and creative presence in the world. Conduits, if you will, of His mercy and grace. In this respect then, WE are the robes of God, instruments of the Great Physician to assist in healing the world around us.
Finally, as I read that Jesus was searching through the crowd and asking "Who touched me," and I watch as the woman, trembling in fear, comes and falls at his feet and tells him everything, I am reminded of another story:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." (Genesis 3:8-10)
This woman did not hide and told Jesus EVERYTHING. Presumably more than just her physical ailments, she did not hold back and told him everything. God seeks our friendship as well as our worship and adoration. He seeks to know us and be known by us and he hopes that we should agree to such an invitation out of the desire of our hearts and love for Him, hiding nothing of ourselves.