by Ken Rolheiser
Touching the hem of His garment

Little Johnny was crying. His mother asked, “What’s the matter?”
“Dad was hanging pictures, and hit his thumb,” said Johnny through his tears.
“That’s not serious,” soothed his mother. “Why didn’t you just laugh?”
“I did!” sobbed Johnny.

Joy and tears have one father. “To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

There is a story told of ancient monks who searched the earth looking for the door to heaven. Finally, they found the place where earth meets heaven. When they opened the door, they were back at their monastery, where they lived their daily lives.

To enable others to touch the hem of Christ’s garment is to be at the place where earth meets heaven. I have shared this experience with my readers before, but I can never recall it without choking up.

When my sister Helen was dying of cancer I went to see her for the last time. She was in and out of consciousness, but she seemed to grow alert and say, “You are here? I’m so sorry.”

I wondered that despite her pain and condition she should worry that I had driven all the way from Canora to Saskatoon. “I’m sorry,” she repeated.

“”It’s all right,” I assured her. “It’s all right,” I continued to assure her.

Later I became aware of another perception. In one of her lucid moments she told one of my sisters that she had seen Jesus. She was happy. Jesus had told her it was all right.

We are at the place where earth meets heaven. Christ is in us, is with us, and acts through us. Jesus is present in the Word — He is the Word made flesh. Jesus makes himself present to us Sacramentally: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” John 6:56.

A third way Jesus is still with us is in his promise “Where two or more are gathered in my name I am in their midst” Matthew 18:20. How simple it is then to be Christ to others!

Father Brendan McGuire in a recent homily said, “Paul’s letter to the Corinthians says you and I are the Body of Christ; you and I, today, are the living Body of Christ. So if Christ is to work in this world, it is because of your hands and my hands. Your lips and my lips. Your feet and my feet…it is only through us that this happens.”
The Holy Spirit is in us through Baptism. Christ chose to stay with us in this world, and it is through us that others can touch the hem of Christ’s garment. The woman of great faith in Luke 8:40, who had been suffering for years, merely touched the fringe of Jesus clothes and her health was restored.

Lifting up others, being bearers of Good News can be as simple as affirming others. Recently a reader sent me this note: “Whoa…this touched me in a deep and profound way…thanks.”

People feel if they can’t do something massively heroic a good deed is wasted. Paul Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the holocaust by forging citizenship passes, said to do “One small thing at a time.” We are the hands and feet of Christ in this world.

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