Today’s Gospel: Matthew 9:18-25
Today’s gospel gives us a window into Jesus’ dealings with women. The story is also told in Mark and Like, which both offer more detail (Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56).
A young girl is “at the point of death” (Mark 5:23) when her father, a leader of the synagogue named Jairus, asks Jesus to lay his hand on her that she might live. When Jesus is still coming to her, servants come to tell Jairus, “She is dead, why trouble the Master further?” (Mark 5:35).
But this news of death does not deter Jesus from taking action. “Do not fear, only believe,” he tells Jairus (Mark 5:36). Can you imagine a parent getting this news and continuing to hope?
When Jesus arrives at the house, he tells those making a commotion of despair and grief, “Go away…she is asleep.” When they ridicule him, he has them expelled from the house. Now in an atmosphere of peace and calm, of prayer and confidence in God, Jesus is able to pray to the Father. Jesus gestures to the little gift lying in her small bed. He takes her by the hand and whispers, Talitha cum, which means, “Little girl, get up!” Immediately she gets up and begins to walk.
Parents with a sick child may look to this gospel for hope. Like the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, this gospel is a clear reference to the resurrection. What parent doesn’t take consolation to know how close the Lord is to a family with a sick child, and how God ultimately promises a greater life beyond this one? Like Jairus, we must believe and now give in to fear.
There is also a strong message to girls and women here. Within every woman is a little girl, who still fears, but the Lord takes her by the hand, and urges her to get up and do the work the Father is calling her to do. In order to be aware of his presence in our lives and his calling and choosing each of us, we must be the woman of prayer. We cannot wait for the approval of others. Like the Lord, we must cast out of our hearts and minds the “crowd of mourners,” voices within us that tempt us to give in to negativity, powerlessness, and destructive self-pity.
Jesus tells us, “Get up. Walk. Have something to eat. Regain your strength.” Challenging? Very! However, if we keep our eyes on him, and remember who it is that command us to awaken spiritually, he will bless us with his own empowerment to do good works. With the Lord’s help, holding his hand, we can heed the words: Do not fear, only believe.
The other story here holds many blessed lessons as well. For today, we may take heart by observing that women are not invisible to Jesus. Even a woman considered unclean by society, as was the case for one with an “issue of blood”, which was considered contaminated. Yet Jesus calls her “daughter”. He commends her for her faith and encourages her.
If there were any doubt as to the respect and honor the Lord gives to girls and women, today’s reading dispels it completely.
Take a short time to meditate in silence with this gospel. Can you imagine Jesus taking your hand and saying to you, “Talitha cum…”?
Lord, you took on up this earthly life, toiled at daily labor and even accepted the cross for love of humankind and for me, give me courage and faith so that I may respond to your love by living my life to the fullest.
Copyright 2014 Julie Paavola