“I’m sorry” and “excuse me” are phrases we use almost every day. We repeat them endlessly when we’re at a crowded event bumping into people.
Honestly, unless I’ve physically hurt someone, I often forego the phrase as I see it more an expression of embarrassment over a social faux pas than an actual voice of regret.
Wait, wait, though. Don’t count me out as rude. This column isn’t a rant against good manners. I just think it’s sad when we have to say we’re sorry for giving someone a human touch, accidental or otherwise.
Our apology might be better saved for those moments when we fail to give people a caring touch. I think our failure to touch each other is often much more harmful than an accidental encounter.
For the most part I try to avoid sermonizing in this column, but take a moment and hear me through today. I want to tell you a story recorded in the Christian Gospels about a woman who spent 12 years seeking a healing touch. She was sick with a bleeding disorder and had spent her savings on doctors who proved unable to help her.
In desperation, she used crowd cover to surreptitiously touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. The biblical record claims that this brush with the divine miraculously healed her and her hemorrhaging stopped.
Interestingly enough, instead of saying, “Pardon me, ma’am,” Jesus asked, “Who touched me?”
The dumbfounded disciples responded with: “Didn’t you notice that you’re in a crowd?” Their question implies they were annoyed with Jesus’ expectation that they would be able to identify any specific individual among so many people.
Anyone who has experienced a pressing Independence Day crowd or the bustle of holiday shoppers knows the impossibility of Jesus’ question.
The truth is that touching someone or seeking the touch of another is always a risky thing. If, like this woman, you touch someone seeking help, you risk the humiliation of rejection. Perhaps that’s why Jesus’ question made this woman duck in shame.
Perhaps she thought, “Who am I to approach such a masterful teacher for healing? What makes me think I’m that important?”
That’s what shame does to us. It causes us to question ourselves to the point of diminishing our worth. It causes us to distance ourselves from those who would help us.
According to Luke 8 in The Message version of the Bible, “Jesus insisted, ‘Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.’ Immediately the woman blurted out her story, why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed.”
However, it was what Jesus said next that interests me most. “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!”
At the end of the day, faith always is about risk. It’s risking something you have to receive something of higher value: your personal healing.
In reading the story, you might ask: “This woman had nothing to lose, so why wouldn’t she risk touching Jesus?” I suspect she had a great deal to lose. After all, she had somehow managed a precarious existence for 12 years, and with that single touch, she risked losing everything.
When I consider how she risked her status quo for a touch from God, I have to ask myself, where is my faith? What do I risk?
My prayer for us today is that we take that risk. Seek a touch and seek to be touched. Live well, live blessed.