Some years ago, Pope Paul VI went to the Holy Land; it was the first time a Pope had visited that part of the world even though it is quite close to Rome. I remember one photograph that was taken from a rooftop along the Via Dolorosa, the Street of Sorrows that marks the route taken by Our Lord carrying his cross from Pilate’s palace to Calvary.
The situation was so typical. If that had occurred in England or this country, the street would have been cleared of people so that the Pope and his entourage would have been able in dignity and safety to make the pilgrimage in honor of Our Lord’s way of the cross. But it was in Jerusalem, and he was surrounded by middle easterners, not English or Americans, and so the situation was utterly chaotic. There were literally thousands of people pressed into a very small area; it was impossible to really protect the Holy Father from a would-be assassin, and it was only with the utmost difficulty that the Pope and his group were able to make their way along the 2-block long stretch of street.
I speak of this today because in the gospel, Our Lord is hemmed in by the same kind of pushing, shoving, elbowing crowd that surrounded the Pope that day. A woman who had suffered from a chronic hemorrhaging condition for years, thought to herself: if I just touch his clothing, I will be healed. She managed to work her way forward to Our Lord, reached in between others, and touched his robe. She was cured, but Our Lord felt power going out of him to effect the cure, and he turned and said, “Who touched me?” His apostles, running a sort of interference for him, couldn’t understand a question like that. They said to him in incredulity, “You see this immense crowd all around you, pressing in upon all of us, and you ask ‘Who touched me?’” The woman confessed that it was she who had been cured. Our Lord blessed her and sent her on her way, in good health for the first time in years.
Now, let us contrast this with the way WE have physical contact with Jesus. He loves us. He wants to be with us, even WITHIN us. So he gives us the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is distributed with dignity and decorum and safety and beauty to those who come, one by one, to receive the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. No one need push or shove; all will receive this precious gift. All will have the tremendous experience of receiving Our Lord in this Sacrament which is a masterpiece of divine love for us and a very concrete proof of what Isaiah the prophet said centuries ago: His name shall be called “Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.