2021 13th Sunday of the Year ( B )
Every time I read or hear those words, “Talitha kum” I think of my time in Jerusalem. I am reminded of meeting people in West Jerusalem; it was a good rendezvous point under the “Talitha kum” arch. These words, written on an arch, it was all that was left of a Christian school that had been there during the British mandate. You couldn’t miss the arch as it stood out amongst all the modern buildings.
Two thousand years before Jesus used those immortal words to order a young girl to get up. She had died but Jesus restored her to life. You can’t begin to imagine how the parents felt. Here had been a young girl, no doubt so full of life loved and cherished by her parents. Her life cruelly cut short. But Jesus miraculously restores her life. But the irony of this is that one day she will die again only this time there will be no miracle. And yet she will be alive. I remember visiting my father’s body in a funeral parlour. I was on my own. I sat there silently and looked at him. It was my father. His eyes were closed as if he were asleep; indeed, I thought he would open his eyes. But of course he didn’t he couldn’t: he was dead. And yet he wasn’t dead. It wasn’t like the little girl in today’s gospel, I didn’t hold my father’s hand and tell him to get up, but I knew my father was alive. How did I know? Does saying I believed it sound too simplistic? But it’s true: I believed my father’s body was there but he was alive. He was living on.
I was touched in the first reading at the statement: ‘virtue is undying.’ It rang true for me about my father. He was a virtuous man. And though he had died yet I knew his virtue lived on. Indeed, he lived on. It is the miracle of life. As we read in that first reading, ‘Death was not God’s doing… to be – for this he created all.’ And even though we shall all die one day we were not created to die, but rather to live. Death is but a transition; from one form of life to another; both are real, and the second even more so, because it lasts for eternity. Doesn’t St Paul confirm this when he says that love never comes to an end. How consoling that should be when we lose our loved ones: because of their love, their virtue, they cannot die. At the moment of their death and indeed or ours the Lord will hold us by the hand, as he did to the little girl, and say: ‘Talitha cum’; “I tell you to live”.