Fringe

October 17, 2012

Matthew 14:34-36

"After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed."

Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell

The fringe of Jesus' cloak that the people touched was no ordinary fringe.  It wasn't just the place where his outfit ended; it was his tzitzit, the tassels worn then and now by observant Jews, like Jesus.

These tassels have at least a couple of meanings: first, they are a way of marking oneself as Jewish; second, they remind the wearer of the commandments of the Torah.  But Rabbi Arthur Waskow gives tzitzit yet another meaning.  The strings of the tassels are, he says, an extension of the person who wears them, reaching out like so many fingers into the universe.  The spaces between the strings are the universe itself, reaching in toward the person.  The fringe as a whole is made up of both the strings and the spaces; it is the powerful place where the person and the world meet and overlap, like two intertwined hands.

It is appropriate, then, that it is Jesus' fringes that heal the people in this story, for Jesus himself is not so different from tzitzit: he is the place where heaven and earth overlap, where God and humanity intertwine, where the Realm of God reaches into the world and the world reaches into the Realm of God, and the two become forever linked.  And it is exactly in that place that God's most powerful work is done.

Prayer

Holy God, grant me the grace to meet and intertwine wit h your world ever more fully, so to be open to you and your power in every day.  In Jesus' name, amen.

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.

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