Healing Hands

By Sarah Cornwell

A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 5:21-43

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all round to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


We have all suffered the pain of separation, particularly this past year, and for some the separation has been especially profound. While technology is a blessing, a telephone call or video chat falls short of physical presence. To hug, to kiss, just to be close, close enough to put a hand on a shoulder — they signify our craving for the Creator. We wish to reach out and touch that which the Creator made by his own hand, and in that physical act of the laying on of a hand, we can find healing for that which ails us.

In today’s gospel reading, Jarius begs Jesus to go and lay his hands on his sick daughter that she might be healed and live. Here is what Peter Chrysologus, a 5th century Italian bishop known for his homilies, preached on this passage:

Those who are sick do not lay down the conditions of how they are to be cured. They only want to be made well. But this man was a ruler of the synagogue, and versed in the law. He has surely read that while God created all other things by his word, man had been created by the hand of God. … He who laid hands on her to form her from nothing, once more lay hands upon her to reform her from what had perished.

While Jesus was on his way to the daughter, a woman made her way through a mighty press of people and reached out and touched Jesus’ cloak, believing it would make her well. Neither Jarius nor the woman asked Jesus to merely speak words of healing from a distance. They knew we need physical contact with the Incarnate One whose body forever healed the separation between man and his Creator. As we re-enter the world of physical contact once more, rejoice in those small connections, for in each touch, we may be reminded of the one who lovingly created and healed with his hands.

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman, ballet teacher, and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

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Today we pray for:

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Houston, Texas
The Diocese of Davao (Episcopal Church in the Philippines)


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