Please, let us take a moment and think about what it means that Jesus laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.
When I was younger I was working as a delivery driver for a tool and die shop. One day while lifting a heavy load from the back of the van up onto the dock I tore the ligaments in my wrist. As a musician I was particularly concerned. I underwent an extensive physiotherapy regimen to get over the injury. One day I was talking to a friend of mine and I was explaining how sore my wrist was. He said very plainly to hold it with my other hand. I tried it and it felt better; so I kept doing it.
At different times in life, I have encountered different Reiki practitioners and healers of different types. If you are not familiar with Reiki, Reiki.org describes the practice in this way;
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy."
When you hear this description and you think about our Gospel stories, does it change at all the way in which you think about Jesus as a healer? It strikes me that Jesus was the ultimate Reiki master. I want to read again for you the last line of our reading; “and he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.” I find it a little bit amusing how Mark downplays the curing of a few sick people. No big deal right? I guess compared to some of Jesus’ bigger acts it wasn’t that big a deal. From this reading you might get the impression that laying hands and healing people is a rather ordinary occurrence.
I think all of us would agree that touching can be a very powerful experience and a necessary element of the healthy human experience. Think about how you are transformed when you hold someone’s hands, or when you exchange a hug. How important is it in our worship service on Sunday morning to greet the Pastor on the way out? Jesus clearly understood how powerful touch is in restoring human dignity. Of course we are not Jesus and we do not compare ourselves to him, but if there is one takeaway from this lesson, it is this; you are much more powerful than you realize. You have the power to transform people by opening your hands to them, to let God work through you and lift up the poor in spirit.
This is not simply a metaphorical hand analogy. This is a practical exercise of our discipleship; amidst the ordinary, we have the power to do extraordinary things.
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.