As many as touched the tassel of his cloak were healed
Mark 6: 56
People in need wished to touch Jesus. So many wished to approach him, to be in close contact with him. And those who touched the tassel of his cloak sensed the healing presence of God.
God is approachable.
I found it fascinating that this year’s lectionary pairs this passage of Mark with the story of the entry of the Ark of the Covenant into Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8: 1-7, 9-13).
The story from the First Book of Kings emphasizes the transcendence of God. In fact, no one was permitted to touch the Ark and those who touched it were struck dead.
What a difference.
But somehow we need to keep together in our lives both the presence of God and God’s transcendence. God is with us, but we can never fully comprehend God.
I think of my childhood when altar boys (sic!) were not allowed to touch the chalice or paten. But now we have lay people distributing communion and we can receive the Eucharist in our hands.
How preserve both senses of who God is? Maybe we need to first remember that even touching the tassel of his cloak heals us, brings us in contact with the powerful love of God who is with us – but offers us something beyond our wildest dreams.
God-with-us calls us beyond ourselves.