talitha koum

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“Jesus took the child by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise!” Luke 5:41

As I read today’s Gospel reading, I was profoundly struck by Jesus’ words to Jairus’ daughter. Everyone thought she had passed away after Jesus stopped on the way to Jairus’ house to encounter the woman suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. Jesus responds to the crowd saying, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Following this, he proceeds to enter the home of the young girl to speak to the depths of her soul calling her to arise, and she “arose immediately and walked around.”

In light of our country’s headlines and movements, it’s incredibly challenging for me to ignore the power of Jesus’ words in the context of our world’s understanding of womanhood. I hear Jesus crying out, “Talitha koum,” to the souls of so many women who are trapped in the confusion and deception of what it means to be a woman.

While many rally to fight for protection and healing from the horrors of abuse, others celebrate the objectification of themselves (and their sisters) through the promotion of an over sexualized culture that strips our world of authentic, life-giving love. All the while, the greatest gift that women possess, the essence of their creation to be life givers, is constantly threatened by our world’s hunger for control and domination over everything, including life itself.

Our understanding of dignity has been thwarted. Too many feminine souls are sleeping.

St. John Paul II in his letter to women written in 1995, expounds on the inherent value that woman brings into the world through her simple breath of existence. He writes,

“Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity … Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.”

Are we bringing these gifts into our vocation, workplace, and the greater world?
How are we making humanity more honest and authentic?

Don’t hide your authentic femininity, letting lies and deception convince you that you are too much or not enough. Our authentic self is valuable, and every time we withhold it from the world, we deprive humanity of the feminine soul. God knew the world was incomplete without her, so he created Eve to breathe beauty, authenticity, fidelity, and strength among other virtues into the world.

In recognizing the truth of our womanhood and inviting our sisters to embrace the splendor of life as God created it, we respond to Jesus’ invitation to arise. We walk humbly together reminding one another not to be afraid of opening our truest self to the world, but rather to live boldly in faith first and foremost as a daughter of God.

As women of courage and faith, the Lord challenges us to be the voice calling out to those in deep slumber, “Talitha koum.”

Arise, my sister, your soul is needed.

ponder this

In the depths of every human heart lies the desire to be accepted. We take one glance around the world we live in, one peek at our phone, and we are instantly bombarded with facades. I know that I don’t need to write out a laundry list of the ways we tirelessly try to portray a perfectly curated image to our network of family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. I’ve never met a person who has not struggled with being accepted and loved for who they are.

The irony of this ache is that we are chosen and loved immeasurably by the one who knew everything about us and sacrificed everything for us. Nothing scares Jesus away from loving us as we are. Rather, despite the fact that he loves us unconditionally, we struggle to accept him for who he is. We hesitate to choose his love, even though it’s perfect.

Why is it so hard for us to embrace the love of our Savior?

Personally, I think sometimes it is hard to believe that his love is as good as he says it is. I don’t doubt that Jesus loves perfectly, but there’s moments in my life that I doubt he could love me perfectly. I see his beauty and glory all around me, and then I realize how little I am in comparison to who he is. I remember how many times I have turned away from his tenderness, and suddenly, I feel intimidated and fearful, even though he’s given me no reason to be. While contrition serves its purpose in confessing our sins to receive the forgiveness of the Lord, running away from him out of fear never does.

That’s what I love about Christmas. Who can be afraid of a sweet little baby?

As I reflected on Jesus’ birth this year, I was struck by the blissful spirit of a baby that lightens up even the most tense situations. Being a single woman in her late twenties surrounded by mamas and soon to be mamas, I can’t help but notice how people flock to their little babes without hesitation. The moment a baby enters the room, conversations pause, everyone’s gaze slowly shifts toward the little one, and arms start to drift outward eagerly awaiting the chance to hold the child for a while.

Now, some of you are the type to aggressively intercept the baby the first chance you get (you know who you are), and you’re good at it. You playfully join conversations near the babe smiling and tickling the child until you get your message across and swoop in for the taking. Others of us, don’t dare to compete with the swoopers. Instead, we wait until the crowd dies down and the mother asks if we would like a chance to hold her baby. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, each of us share the desire to varying degrees. There’s nothing quite like holding a baby. Sweet, tender, soft, silly, loving, humble, non-judgmental, endearing, and approachable.

Here lies the beauty of the incarnation. Jesus comes to us as a sweet, tender, soft, silly, loving, humble, non-judgmental, endearing, and approachable little baby. No wonder people traveled from near and far to adore him. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

If you’re hesitating to connect with Jesus, or running out of places to hide and reasons why you’re too much or not enough for his love, try holding baby Jesus in your arms this year. The beautiful bundle of joy asks nothing of you and gives you everything in return.

Maybe you were ready to swoop in this Christmas toward the manger and cuddle Jesus in your arms, or perhaps, you felt like you were waiting in a crowd for the hustle and bustle to pass so you could finally have a quiet moment with the Lord. Even still, maybe you’re bowing before him not quite ready to approach the manger, or you’re slowly making your way there feeling the tremble that the shepherds felt in the field that night.

Wherever you are, Jesus trusts you. He entrusts himself to you to hold him in your arms. He wants you to love him and accept him for who he is, so that you can feel him holding you and accepting you for all that you are. Be not afraid, dear one.

“Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms, it is as if God were saying: ‘I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so you can accept me and love me.'” – Pope Benedict XVI 

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