The Healing of Jarus’ Daughter, Leuven, Flanders c.1520-1525, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY, USA.
He took the [deceased] child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. Mark 5:41-42
Words highlighted in red are links to supporting materials.
It could be that events such as this must have had the most profound impact on those around Jesus. Bringing back a young girl from the bondage of death was unprecedented. If ever there was a sign that the Messiah was in their midst at long last, this was it! Only God could restore the dead to life, and this is what had happened. It was for such as this that God’s Son came to us. It was necessary that he show truly that God was in our midst, able to do anything to make our lives better. He was, as it were, establishing his credentials. If he alone had the power to conquer death, then it was worth our time to listen to him. Note the affection with which Jesus approached the little girl. He says Talitha koum, translated here as Little girl, I say to you arise. It might be a little bit more complicated than that. Some scholars of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic claim that what Jesus said was more like Little lamb, arise. That would certainly tie in with Jesus’ self-description as the Good Shepherd, and it is certainly much more affectionate than Little girl, or sometimes even “Girl”. The Aramaic language is that which Jesus spoke, and on several occasions it is reported literally in Matthew, Mark and John, as well as the letters of Paul. If you are interested in that topic, take a look here. The event was the culmination of today’s gospel. There are several points to be made. First, it was singularly unusual for a leader of the synogogue, Jairus, to appeal to Jesus for help: his daughter was dying. You will recall it was the religious leaders of the people who eventually occasioned Jesus’ death. Secondly, the woman with the issue of blood, an afflication that had plagued her for years (and no doubt for which she had been declared unclean in the Jewish community), had such absolute faith in the Lord that she believed simply touching his robe would cure her. It did. And then there was the miracle conquering death itself: טְלִיחָא קוּמִי ταλιθὰ κούμ talitha koum, little girl, stand up. And she did.
Concrete faith in Jesus seems to be the message here. Note than even after Jairus had been told his daughter had died, he still conducted Jesus to his home. That spells hope and faith. It was the faith that Jesus had to instill in his first followers for his message to be remembered after he had gone. Yes, we cannot call back those have died: even the little girl was eventually called from this life. But we can believe in the one who demonstrated he had the power to do so, and hence we should listen to his teachings, echo his behavior and above all, share his faith in God. It was events such as that in today’s gospel that pointed to Jesus as the keystone of our faith, without which nothing of his message would have survived. Throughout our lives, he walks with us, pointing the way, even when we would rather walk down another pathway. Yet he persists, never losing hope in us, always forgiving when we return to him, perhaps older and wiser. That is what a shepherd does, shepharding us back from the wrong path to the right for our own good. That is the way he says talitha koum today, to each of us, resurrecting our faith to restore eternal life within us. Deo gratias! Thanks be to God!
Jesus the Good Shepherd, unknown provenance.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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