Little Girl, Rise

Little Girl, Rise

There are days that I allow myself to sit and wallow in my ‘unworthiness’ wondering how someone like me… an unassuming nobody, can hold any value or have anything to contribute. And, now that I’m retired/semi-retired/on sabbatical, these thoughts creep in more frequently adding new layers to anxiety and depression.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve defined myself by what I’ve done, not who I am. Now that I’m not longer in active ministry I must be more vigilant to rediscover who I am and remember in Whom my worth lies. A few weeks ago, the Gospel at Mass was taken from Mark 5. It’s the story within a story – The Daughter of Jairus and the Hemorrhaging Woman.

Jairus’s daughter had died and he, a synagogue official, comes to Jesus and asks Him to heal her.

The story is abruptly interrupted by a seemingly unrelated event about a woman who had suffered years of hemorrhaging. While Jesus walks the streets surrounded by a large crowd the woman pushes through and reaches out to touch Him. Her faith so strong that she knew if she could just touch the hem of His garment she would be healed. She reaches out in faith and was indeed healed.

The Gospel then returns to the scene at the home of Jairus and his 12 year old daughter. Jesus suggests to those around that she is not dead but merely asleep. To this, He is mocked and ridiculed, so He tells everyone to leave of the room with the exception of a few disciples and the girl’s parents. Jesus goes to the girl’s beside, lifts up her hand, and says, “Talitha Koum!”, Aramaic for “Little girl, I say to you arise”.

And, she does!

She is reawakened.

While the stories are very different – they have similarities that can teach us much.

Both women are unclean – one from blood, the other from death. Touching, or being touched by an unclean person, would render one unclean until evening and in need of ceremonial purification. Knowing this, Jesus doesn’t care – He considers the other person more important. We see this time and time again but what can this particular story teach us?

Think about it – how many people in our lives do we consider ‘unclean’?

Those who are different than us? Those who think/act differently? With different political persuasions, different socioeconomic backgrounds; those who practice a different religion or hold an alternative sexual lifestyles. Do we try to avoid them at all costs, speak unkindly about them behind their back or treat them differently than we would someone else?

Or, how about that annoying relative, the nosy neighbor, or the obnoxious coworker. Do we block them on social media, refuse their calls, hide when they come to our door?

While these people may seem different than us or cause us anxiety, fear, anger and frustration, we are the same: children of God, broken yet unconditionally loved.

Our challenge is to be Christ to them.

Can we overlook what we might consider to be ‘unclean’, to reach out to them with open hearts and allow them into our lives?

We’ve heard it over and over that we are the hands and feet of Christ. We may be the only face of Jesus that others may ever encounter; and in a broken world this could literally mean life/death (physical and spiritual) for those we had considered ‘unclean’.

I know I have personally held biases, preconceived notions about people and how they live. I’ve blocked people that annoy me or that I ‘don’t want to deal with’; avoided those who think differently than me or that I thought were ‘needy’.

My thoughts now are not “What would Jesus do?”, but “What would Jesus think of me

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Redemption and Mercy

Over the last several years in active ministry, God has blessed me with a more empathetic heart, patience with difficult personalities, and a wider eye for different perspectives.

I am loved no greater or no less than anyone else.

I’m less than perfect, and at times I am quite ‘unclean’.

There are days that I am desperate to reach out to touch the hem of His garment.

It’s also time for me to pass on the compassion that I need so much.

God, grant me the strength to reach out and lift up others.

Allow me to speak those healing words, “Talitha Koum!”

Pray for me as I pray for you.

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