Does Jesus wear magic fringe?
Today’s Gospel from the Mass (Mark 6:53-56) offers a somewhat strange, perhaps confusing demonstration of the awesome power of Christ:
 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennes’aret, and moored to the shore.  And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him,  and ran about the whole neighborhood and began to bring sick people on their pallets to any place where they heard he was.  And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the market places, and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.
There are several astounding things in the Gospel, regarding Jesus’ power:
- Jesus and the Apostles land in Gennes’aret, a small town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It’s name means, “garden of riches”; and yet, despite its name, there is great suffering in the land: many people are sick, desperate for healing.
- Jesus is immediately recognized; He is seen as a great Rabbi, a great healer with awesome power. So much so that people “ran about” and bring sick people to “any where they hear he was.” This is an interesting image: imagine people carrying people on stretchers, running from one place to another, seeking to find someone to heal their loved ones.
- The people “laid the sick in market places”, trying to get a chance that they “might touch even the fringe of his garment.”
- It must have been chaos; people running, crowding, seeking to draw close enough to Jesus to touch His garment. What faith! What desperation!
- At first glance, what comes next seems strange: “…as many as touched” the fringe of the garment of Jesus were made well. This seems odd; does Jesus have a “magic” garment, one with mysterious healing power? It sounds almost like some kind of science fiction or mythological magic object.
- What of the fringe, and why was Jesus wearing it? Moses instructed the Israelites to wear tassels on their clothing as visible reminder to keep God’s commandments (Num 15:38-40). Of course, Jesus did not need reminders to keep God’s commandments: as the Son in the Blessed Trinity, Jesus, Himself, gave the commandments in the first place. And He certainly doesn’t need reminders to keep the commandments; He is perfect. We must assume that Jesus wears the tassels to remind others that is absolutely necessary to keep the commandments and, perhaps, to keep with the customs of the Jews.
- What are we to make of the fact that an ordinary object can be used to heal? Jesus on a number of occasions uses material things to heal; spittle (Mark 8:23), clay (John 9:6), clothing (Mark 5:28-29), water (John 9:7).
- This use of ordinary objects prepares the Church for the 7 Sacraments that heal the body and soul as instruments of God’s Grace (CCC 1504).
Of course, the fringe of Jesus’ cloak is not magic. Jesus is divine and can use ordinary objects to do extraordinary things. He continues to do so today; Jesus Christ is present at every Mass, turning ordinary bread and wine into His true body and blood.
That is more than magic; it is Divinity.