He Laid Hands on Each of Them

In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, after Jesus cures Simon’s mother-in-law, “all who had people sick with various disease brought them to him.” Luke then tells us that Jesus “laid his hands on each of them and cured them.”

Jesus didn’t stand in front of the room and announce, “Everyone here present is now healed.” He touched each of them individually and, in that personal encounter, they were healed.

We see this same thing over and over again. Jesus caused a blind man to see, he didn’t cure blindness, which would have had a larger impact measured by numbers. He caused a deaf man to hear, he didn’t cure deafness, which likewise would seem to be the bigger impact. And so on and so forth.

I was reminded as I sat with this passage of an excerpt from Barbara Brown Taylor’s, An Altar in the World, that I coincidentally just received via e-mail:

Jesus walked a lot, and not only during the last week of his life. The four gospels are peppered with accounts of him walking into the countryside, walking by the Sea of Galilee, walking in the Temple, and
even walking on water…. This gave him time to see things. If he had been moving more quickly – ­even to reach more people – these things might have become a blur to him. Because he was moving slowly, they came into focus for him, just as he came into focus for them. Sometimes he had a destination, sometimes he did not. For many who followed him around, he was the destination…. While many of his present-day admirers pay close attention to what he said and did, they pay less attention to the pace at which he did it.

I think both the Gospel and Brown’s statement are an important reminder to us. I think it is easy for us to get so caught up in the desire to do something big that we can miss the opportunities to touch and heal individuals. Jesus noticed people and saw what they needed. And he touched them – one at a time. If we can do the same, that is enough.