Little Girl, Arise! by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to him, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'" And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."
While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrive and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"
I lost my mother 10 months ago when she died of complications due to emphysema and old age. I have come to know that it is quite painful to lose a parent, especially if they have played a strong, supportive role in our lives. My mom was the matriarch of our family. She planted the seeds of faith in us, acted as a great source of unity for the family, taught us many lessons about life, fed us like royalty, lent us her ear and gave us advice, and loved us with a mother’s tender love. Her departure from this world has left a hole in our lives which aches, often at some of the strangest moments.
As painful as the experience has been, I know that there are worse kinds of suffering in our world. One of the greatest forms of suffering on this earth is when a parent endures the death of a child. Jesus encounters such a tragedy in today’s Gospel passage when a synagogue official named Jairus is informed that his twelve-year old daughter has died. Our Lord demonstrates tremendous compassion for this man and his heartbreaking tragedy. In fact, Jesus is deeply moved by his pain and offers him a totally unexpected gift. Jesus goes to the girl’s home, brings her mother and father into her room, and raises her from the dead with the worlds, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” Jesus actually restores her to life and reunites the sorrowing family.
Through the eyes of faith, we see Jesus acting with great charity and power in this Gospel scene. Yet, Jesus is asking us to look even deeper into the meaning of this event. A key to this deeper meaning can be found in our Lord’s words to Jairus after he receives news of his daughter’s death: “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.”
Jesus is reminding us by word and deed that He is the God of the living and the dead; He is Lord of Life. He demonstrates His lordship by raising this precious child from the dead. He restores her to her family by returning her to this present life. However, Jesus comes to do much more than give this little girl another 60 or 70 years on this earth. Jesus comes to redeem the world from sin, to repair our broken relationship with our Heavenly Father, and to open the gates to eternal life. His ultimate goal is to make it possible that every person ever conceived could be united with the Holy Trinity in an intimate bond of faith and love for all eternity.
Faith in this great truth that God offers his life and love to us freely and that He desires to draw us up into his very existence for all eternity transforms our lives on this earth and dispels fear. “Perfect love drives out all fear.” (1 Jun 4:18) If we truly believe in Jesus, if we accept that He is the way, the truth and the life, then our lives on this earth are marked by a peace, a humble confidence and a joy that this world cannot give. We fined ourselves with nothing real to fear. It is such an incredible blessing to go through life with this kind of faith and trust in God.
When I think of my mother these days, I still feel the ache in my heart that she is not here to call, to visit, to kiss on the forehead, to share a meal with or to go for a ride in the car with. However, in my sorrow I am deeply comforted by Christ and my faith in Him. I find tremendous comfort in knowing that Jesus died on the cross for my mother. I take great pleasure in pondering the fact that God has welcomed her into His eternal embrace where she is loved more that I can possible imagine. I am grateful for all that Christ suffered and endured so that He could say to my mom from heaven, “Little girl, arise!”
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