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To Be Barely Touched By Jesus

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I’m always reflective at 3:00 a.m. Recently up at that early hour because the baby wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t with the baby. The baby was with my wife, nursing fitfully. I was downstairs in the recliner, trying to sleep, having just stormed out of the bedroom because, of all things, the baby wouldn’t stop touching me.

I know, not my finest hour, but hear me out. It’s not that I mind being touched. After all, I’m a hugger. I’ll shake your hand or give you a pound, or you can put your arm around me. I just don’t like to be barely touched, like when I’m holding a baby and his foot grazes my hip bone or when my arm slightly touches the arm of the person sitting next to me.

Most people don’t seem to mind, but it makes me want to climb a wall. It shocks my whole body, yanks me out of the deepest sleep—I absolutely cannot stand to be barely touched.

As I sat in the darkness thinking about this, I felt remorse. I’m ashamed that I’m this way; not only because it means my wife is left alone with the baby, but because Jesus barely touched people and they barely touched Him, and it was enough to bring them healing.

What do I do when He reaches out to me?

Being a carpenter’s son, Jesus’ hands were likely strong, calloused and rough from working with wood, stone and heavy tools. But, we see in Scripture that His touch was healing and gentle.

Sometimes Jesus healed with a simple command: “Rise, take up your bed and go home” (Mt. 9:6); “Go, your son will live” (Jn. 4:50); “Lazarus, come out!” (Jn. 11:43).

But, often it was by touch, and specifically by taking someone’s hand into His. Like His Father in heaven who took the Jews “by the hand” and led them out of Egypt (Heb. 8:9), Jesus brought healing and new life with a loving hand. Jairus’ daughter (Mt. 9:25), Peter’s mother-in-law (Mk. 1:31), the blind man at Bethsaida (Mk. 8:23) and the boy with the unclean spirit (Mk. 9:27) were all healed when Jesus took them by the hand.

Sometimes, people barely touched Him, and that healed them too. For example, the woman with a hemorrhage (Mt. 9:20- 22) and the sick people in Gennesaret (Mt. 14:34-36) simply touched the fringe of Jesus’ garment and they were healed.

That was the power of touching Jesus and being touched by Him.

Jesus reaches out to me too, but, as in those long nights with the baby, I’m not always receptive. He whispers, “You should go to Confession,” but I don’t always go. He speaks in the readings at Mass, but I don’t always listen. He seeks me in the presence of the poor, but I don’t always greet Him. I dismiss, I ignore, I recoil.

Recently, I’ve learned that when I’m lying beside the baby and I’m all touched out, the solution is not to avoid him. If he’s looking for me in the middle of the night, he’ll stretch and grope until he finds me, no matter how far I scoot away. But if I move in closer, then we’re touching—but not barely touching—and he feels safe enough to sleep.

I’m going to try that approach with Jesus. After all, He’s always reaching out, always yearning to be close, not in a harassing way, but in a way that says, “I’m open to you. I love you. I want to heal you.” I’m determined to draw near Him.

Stretch and grope and you will find Him too, and you will also find your healing. That’s just as true at 3:00 a.m. as it is at any other time.

Nicholas Hardesty is the associate director of Adult Evangelization and RCIA for the Center for the New Evangelization. | [email protected]

This article appeared in the August 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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