On the Edge

In the latest book, Precious and Grace,  in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Mma Ramotswe, the main character in typical practice shares homey wisdom: If a person touches the bottom of your skirt, you are then connected in skirt concern for that person. Perhaps in the cultural milieu of Jesus, there was such a cultural expectation inclining the woman with the hemorrhage for 12 years to think that if she could only get close enough through the crowds pressing on Jesus to touch the hem of his garment, all would be well.

She did get close enough, and, in spite of the press of the people, Jesus sensed her touch and her need: He felt power go out from him. Imagine the unnamed woman’s joy in being healed after 12 years of suffering with no alleviation and with public religious shame.

This Advent, consider who has touched the edges of your life. Who could use a word of counsel? Is there anyone on the periphery of your life who might be over-joyed if you are in touch? Is there anyone of whom you are just vaguely aware could use some form of assistance? Oh, do attend to those with whom you rub shoulders. They have a claim on you, of course. Charity begins at home as does justice.

Our effective caring can reach beyond our geographical range of encounters. The Pope has invited us to consider those on the peripheries of society for any reason or series of causes. There are many ways to support such persons or groups. Even speaking of them with loving concern can be a witness that might convert attitudes of others who might be in a position to make a concrete difference.

This raises the question: how do we speak of those who are different in any way from external appearance to verbally expressed religious or political perspectives?

“There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.”
“For God sees not as human beings do who look only at outward appearances,
but God sees the heart.”
Let us pray to “see feelingly.”        (Macbeth; Book of Samuel; King Lear)

Let us not forget the power of prayer as a means to reach toward others, to lift up others, to contour hearts. Pray to see others with the eyes of the heart. Pray, in this season of Incarnation, to see others as another Christ. After all, none of us would have come forth from the creative hand of God if the Creator had not seen us as pleasing, as beautiful, as worthy of love, as beloved.

Dear Jesus,
You beheld others
with a loving glance,
a look of acceptance
that brought them healing.
in this Christmas season,
when we take time
to gaze upon images of You
in the manger,
may we let our hearts be touched
 with an openness to accept other’s true selves.


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