In my childhood decades ago I used to walk to school along the mud track through the kampong. Along the path I came across the creeping ‘touch-me-not’ weed growing in abundance. For the fun of it I would touch it to see its leaves shrivel and close. Decades on, mud tracks have given way to highways and I see much less of this plant. Modernity and progress have also afforded us manicured gardens. We choose what we plant.
Like the gardens around us, we too have grown to be different. Modernity have afforded us abundant choices to be who we want to be. We can choose to weed out what we don’t fancy in life. We can choose from the numerous highways to achieve happiness. Unfortunately for some of us we leave the path of faith.
The ‘touch-me-not’ plant has many nicknames. It is called the ‘shy, bashful, sensitive plant’. It is called ‘sleeping plant’ and ‘prayerful plant’. It is also known as the ‘shame plant’. Today’s gospel touching on the Canaanite woman and Jesus seemingly refusing to help her provoked this reflection about faith in today’s world. And many of us are perhaps like this plant.
The bait of worldly riches has led us down many different paths. We have also grown to become more guarded as individuals. The ‘open door kampong spirit’ has shriveled to be the ‘closed door my-privacy-please’ lifestyle. Our manicured lifestyle has had a great impact on our faith life. We have strayed far into “disobedience of God” where we cannot anymore feel connected or touched by faith.
Try telling someone that the God of the universe, our almighty God is in fact a God who is very personal to us and very involved in our daily life. Try telling that Jesus wants to touch our life every day. Chances are people in this over-informed age will find that incredulous. Until we encounter road-blocks on our highways and find ourselves in desperate situations, will we then only turn to look for God.
One of the biggest obstacle to return along the path of faith is the feeling of unworthiness. Like the ‘touch-me-not’ weed, we shrivel and curl up in shame. When life arrive at the point when we need to be re-connected with God, we don’t have to close up in shyness. For the absolute truth is that our God is a faithful God who waits patiently for our return to the path of faith. There is no penalty, no toll fee to pay.
Today’s second reading, “Just as you changed from being disobedient to God, and now enjoy mercy because of their disobedience, so those who are disobedient now – and only because of the mercy shown to you – will also enjoy mercy eventually. God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind”.
Jesus never refuses mercy and is present every day wanting to touch us. We must not say “touch me not” but instead let our guard down and allow him to. We must re-plant the seed of faith. Faith can only grow when we wake from our sleep, put aside our shame, sensitivities and shyness, open up and prayerfully say, “Touch Me”.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time