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Trinity 24: Tassels

by ToddPeperkorn ~ November 10th, 2010

This is from the always thoughtful blog, Priestly Rants.  Make a point of checking it out.

Trinity 24: Tassels: “Trinity 24: Tassels We all know what a tassel looks like, but I brought this one in today, and it should be very familiar to anyone who has ever graduated from a place where a cap and gown is required. Now there’s really nothing special about this tassel or about tassels in general, and yet it was a tassel that the woman in today’s Gospel lesson wanted to touch. It wasn’t Jesus she wanted to touch—that would be just too much, and perhaps she felt herself too unworthy—it was just the tassel, that was hung on the edge of his robe.

Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. And so Jesus wore the tassels.

I suppose as he walked to the home of a synagogue leader, the tassel bounced on his garment—almost like the grapes that hung just beyond the reach of the fox, and yet unlike the Aesop’s fox, she was determined to touch that tassel, hoping that she would be healed. Her bleeding problem made her ritually unclean; it kept her from entering the Temple; from touching; it forced her to join the lepers, the cripples and the lunatics as they shouted ‘UNCLEAN’ up and down the city streets. No one yet had been able to heal her—twelve years had gone by.

Of course she wasn’t sure what to expect; she wasn’t certain of how he would react. Should she just talk to him, should she stop him on the street and simply ask him ‘Have mercy on me’? Then she remembered the other woman, the Canaanite woman, who cried out for mercy, not for herself, but rather for her daughter. She also remembered his reply, and how he called her a dog. Yet she had stood her ground, and asked only for a crumb; that crumb turned out to be the healing of her daughter.

No, it was too risky to talk to him, to embarrassing to tell him publically what her problem was. She’d keep to the plan, just a touch, and in the crowded streets with all the bumping and pushing, he would never know. As she got closer, perhaps her courage almost failed her—but then what had she to lose?

The ending to the story is familiar to us all: no one can touch Jesus, or even his tassel without his knowledge. And who here wouldn’t like to touch even the tassel on Jesus’ garment—with those kinds of curative powers hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers across the world would be emptied. Now here’s where it gets difficult for me: I do believe that Jesus physically heals people, and I do believe that to be a fantastic gift.

But I also do believe that even a healed body, even a mind made whole, can still contain within in it a soul that is simply not at peace with God; a healed mind and a healed body and still a life or style of life in turmoil. It is hard to understand—and if I said I understood it I’d be a liar—that there is a type of healing that goes far and away beyond the physical. To put in terms of today’s Gospel lesson, there are indeed souls that bleed, and bleed continually, either through ignorance or self-inflicted wounds.

The woman I think had hoped that she wouldn’t have to talk to Jesus; she thought her condition to embarrassing; she might even have been frightened to tell Jesus what the problem actually was. And so she hoped to solve the problem by sort of touching him in the crowd-to touch him and to just keep going. She couldn’t; he wouldn’t allow it; as if Jesus doesn’t notice, or worse doesn’t care.

Today’s Gospel lesson is less about what we do for others, and more about what we do for ourselves. Jesus won’t tolerate a fleeting touch, a quick handshake amidst a crowded room, an arm on the shoulder; he took on flesh as well as emotion and he did it to establish a relationship with all the bleeding people of the world-to include you. In an odd sort of way, Jesus bled so that you didn’t have to.

That part we all seem to get: ‘Jesus died on the cross for me—OK game over.’ ‘Resurrection’ isn’t the only word that starts with an ‘R,’ ‘relational’ and ‘relationship’ also begin with an ‘R’ and they are every bit as important as ‘resurrection.’ His death is not all that he did for me; he became human for me so that he might better understand why it is that I bleed; why it is that I insist on the handshake, the brief pat on the back, instead of the conversation and the relationship that follows.

For better or for worse Lutherans talk a great deal about ‘sin,’ and while sin is given a variety of names, maybe sin is simply the refusal to enter into fellowship with God; the refusal to embrace and to hold; to move beyond the handshake and the touching of tassels, to the holding of flesh against flesh, and then to simply talk…

Let us pray then that this week, and especially as we move into the season of Advent, that the Holy Spirit would move us to move beyond tassels and touches, to a full embrace of Jesus.


Priestly Rants 11/9/10 9:50 AM admin Today’s Ranting”


(Via Priestly Rants.)

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