An Aramaic phrase, it means, “little girl, I say unto you, arise”. It is part of an intriguing scene in which Jesus heals and raises to life, a kind of double miracle, as it were, which helps us to understand the radical nature of the Resurrection. A ruler of the Jews, Jairus by name, comes to Jesus seeking the healing of his daughter who is “at the point of death.” Jesus goes with him and “a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.”
Jesus is in the midst. A woman in the crowd who had suffered “a flow of blood for twelve years” and “who had suffered much under many physicians” thinks that “if I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” She touches his garment and immediately is healed. But the greater interest is in what follows. Jesus wants to know who touched him, even more he wants the woman who was healed to be embraced in his knowing love of our humanity rather than presuming to steal a cure unawares. She comes to him “in fear and trembling and and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.” His response shows us what God seeks for us: our being healed in his knowing love for us. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Only then does he continue on his way to the house of Jairus.
On the way, he is told that she is dead but he comes any way. In the face of the mockery and laughter of the household, he bids her in Aramaic to arise. She is raised up. It is one of three powerful stories where Jesus meets us as mourners and restores to life the dead. Such scenes prepare us and show us something of the radical nature of the Resurrection. It is the only scene, though, which shows our disdain and cynical mockery of the possibility of new life. We laugh and are dead, as it were, to the power of God. This story is meant to counter such behaviour and to awaken us to the wonder of God and to the nature of his will for us.
He is in the midst of our humanity. That is a powerful feature of God’s engagement with our humanity, an engagement from within the forms of our disorder and disarray. “He speaks – and, listening to his voice, / New life the dead receive”, as one of the hymns puts it, “the mournful broken hearts rejoice, / The humble poor believe.” There is, at least, the possibility that we might be touched by what we hear and see.
The Church Parade is a great crowd but not a tumult of disorder and disarray, or so we hope, but rather an ordered whole, a company with a purpose and a commitment to what belongs to the good of the whole. That is what makes the parade special. It speaks to the challenges and the purpose of the educational project of the School. It reminds us of our better selves and of the aspirations to be better people. That can only happen when we are together in a sacred purpose. The life of the Corps is about service and sacrifice, about duty and commitment, words which have short shrift in our culture but which are emphasized in the other lesson read in Chapel this week from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians about “put[ting] on the whole armour of God” in order to withstand the spiritual challenges of our lives.
The challenge of this week is to be alive to the animating principles that belong to the life of the School. Only so can we build and build well. Only so can we, like the daughter of Jairus, be raised up. Talitha cumi.
(Rev’d) David Curry
Chaplain, English & ToK teacher
Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy