While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived 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!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. [At that] they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat. Mark 5:35-43
If you’re like me you probably spent much of your life worrying about what people think of you, or various other anxieties that happen throughout the day. I often feel like I spent a good majority of my adult life in a fog. Chasing that next happiness, but once achieving it, like a ghost, the happiness disappeared. I had an on again off again relationship with God, but I never quite grasped that the happiness I should be looking for was in seeking holiness. That is, until Veronica was murdered. I feel as though I lived in a fog, but once I sat contemplating death, my focus became much more clear on what was really important. The anxiety subsided and stays that way when I seek communion with God. It is as if he said to me, “Talitha Koum, little girl, get up and live.”
There is a joy in this. Prior to this I was a rule follower (though I broke many but thought I was doing good by comparison to everyone else), but rules without love creates what I call joy sucking. Jesus wants us to live in joy. Living in joy means living in Trust of God. Similarly, when I broke the rules, I often found myself in an abyss of shame. The rules were created out of love.
While we were on retreat there was a group of young lady singers called His Own. We were in the chapel in adoration and they sang, “Little Girl Get Up.” Tears flowed down my face. How had I lived all those years in that fog? Love finally found me, and I finally listened. My shame was taken away, and with it anxiety subsides. Though I have had some high anxiety times since then, every time I go deeper in prayer I feel the Lord calling me to a deeper and deeper trust. With this trust comes humiliation. Yes, humiliation. It is a recognition of our own smallness. A recognition that not everything is about me. A recognition that the world needs love and I need to do my part to bring it. And that requires self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice is hard, but because of the joy of living in trust and by His grace you can do it.
The Priest there had us do a meditation. He asked us to put ourselves next to Mary after Jesus’ birth and to walk the life raising Jesus next to her. Here is my meditation;
I close my eyes. I can hear Joseph. He says we have to leave. He has been warned in a dream that we have to leave. I have great anxiety and fear. I don’t know how we will survive. Mary grabs my hand and says, “trust.” For a fleeting moment I feel safe. We gather what little we have and we go. The journey is long and hard, but many miracles take place to help our safe passage. Mary was right.
We are in Egypt, I follow Mary’s lead. Most days are ordinary taking care of this child, who is extraordinary. Mary does the days work. I work along side of her.
There is nothing special in what we do but it is special the way she does it.
She is gentle and humble, never bitter, even when the work is hard. She does ordinary things with great love.
We receive word that Herod is dead and we can return home. We pack up like we did before and we make the long journey. The child, now a boy, grabs his Mother’s hand. He tells her not to let go. She looks at him, then she looks at me and says, “trust.”
There was a time when we lost him. She genuinely seemed worried. When we found him he told her, “didn’t you know I would be in my Father’s house?” She looked at me and said, “trust.”
Our lives were ordinary. We prayed, we worked, we loved. She taught me to be thankful. Thankful for the work. Thankful for the ordinary. But it was clear the boy was extraordinary. He emanated love. He honored her and his father. Being in the house with them, it was peace. When Joseph passed, I was fearful an sad. She looked at me and said, “trust.”
Our lives were ordinary, until they weren’t anymore.
The boy was now a man, and he made his ministry public. There was nothing ordinary about it. He was a miracle worker. He was the one. The one we were waiting for.
I saw it at the wedding. They were out of wine. Mary told the servants, “do whatever he tells you.” She looked at me and said, “trust.” He changed the water into wine.
Our lives got turned upside down. She was always praying. Watching him from afar. I was amazed. He was a wonder worker. Healing people, raising the dead! People kept coming to us about him. They all wanted a piece of him. Still she remained at peace. Kind, gentle, and humble. She remained grateful.
But he was starting to make people mad. He threatened their power. They wanted to run him out of town. They wanted to kill him. She looked at me and said, “trust.“
They either loved him or hated him. But those who hated him had the most power. When he came to Jerusalem he was praised, “Hosanna to the son of David,” they said. I knew he was our King. But then things quickly went bad.
They arrested him. The sorrow in Mary’s heart, I could feel it. I grabbed her hand to console her. How could they do this to this innocent man? As tears welled in her eyes, she looked at me and said, “trust.”
I didn’t understand how she could say that. They yelled, “crucify him” and released a criminal. I screamed for them to let him go. My sweet Jesus. We sobbed as they scourged him. They put a crown of thorns on his head. Mary’s sorrow was palpable. In between her sobs she whispered, “trust.”
They gave him a cross. He was so bloodied and beaten. He was weak. He fell.
I could not bear it. I had been holding Mary’s hand, but I let go to cover my eyes. I got separated from her because of the crowd. I looked for her. Suddenly I saw her. She was standing with him. Their gazes pierced one another. You could see their love and their sorrow. The bond of the two unshakable. The soldiers shoved him onward. I cried out, “my God, somebody help him.”
As if God heard my meager plea, the soldiers grabbed a man from Cyrene to help him carry the cross. I was grateful. What a thing to be grateful for.
As he came down the road I found myself face to face with him. How can I stop his suffering? I pulled off my veil and wiped the blood and sweat off of my Sweet Jesus’ face. It was the only thing I knew to do. The only reprieve I could give. I felt so small and unable to help. But I looked at him after wiping his face. His eyes pierced my soul and I could see how much he loved me, and I hoped he knew how much I loved him. The soldiers shoved him on.
Mary caught up with me. When we got to the place of the Skull they began nailing him to the cross. I froze at the agony of it. Mary and John went close and stood beneath the cross. I just sobbed. When it was done, they pierced his side. Blood and water poured out from his lifeless body onto Mary. Through her tears she looked back at me and whispered, “trust.”
I was at a loss. How could she say this? My Jesus, her Son was dead. Our king was dead. At that moment I looked down and realized I was holding my veil in my hands. I opened it. And there was his image. His holy face on my veil. And I instantly knew she was right. The story wasn’t over and I had faith. I had trust that God had something better in store than I could imagine. And I decided to trust, like Mary does.
So my message today to everyone out there. Trust like Mary. Live with Joy. Little Girl, or little boy, child of God, “get up and live.” If we live in trust then no matter how small or how gigantically large the storm gets we can help our fellow man.