The Force of the 12-Year-Old Girl

You don’t have to be a full-time soccer dad to know that, when your twelve-year-old daughter wakes up after having been widely reported dead, she’ll need something to eat.

Jairus the synagogue official loved his daughter. He also believed in Almighty God, and loved Him. The father loved God enough to think: The Lord does not will death and sadness; he does not wish me to lose my little girl.

Cover of English edition of Pope Francis' encyclical on environmentAnd the synagogue official had heard of Jesus of Nazareth. Jairus believed that all the goodness of the ancient Lord of Israel, Who had liberated the people from slavery, and fed them with manna in the desert, and made their daughters graceful as columns—all that goodness dwelt in the Galilean rabbi.

Let’s try to share Jairus’ mind. Dark house. Wailing mourners. His well-meaning neighbors, thinking they were doing him a favor by coming over to caterwaul and lament how sad and miserable the world is. How there really is no hope. Meanwhile, all Jairus can think is: I just want to give my little girl a sandwich and tell her she can go outside and play after she has had adequate time to digest. Why won’t she wake up?

How the mourners must have stared when Jairus declared his intention to stride out into the dusty sunshine in search of the Nazorean rabbi.

“What has gotten into him?” they thought to themselves. “This synagogue official always seemed so reasonable—until now. Grief has overcome his wits.”

Meanwhile, Jairus is thinking to himself, “I can’t take any more of this wailing.” And Christ couldn’t stand the sound of it, either. He put the mourners out of the house. After all, he had told Jairus: “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.”

Just have faith that twelve-year-old girls will continue to eat sandwiches and play soccer. Just have faith that death will not swallow our hopes. Have faith that summertime barbecues will mean peace and co-operation in families, and not misunderstanding and misery. Just believe that the heavenly Father loves His children. His loving Hands will give us life.

Up the stairs. To the little bed…

Talitha koum. Get up, little girl. I am the Lord of Life. I create day, not darkness. I bring healing, not woe. I want twelve-year-old girls to eat sandwiches and play soccer in the afternoon, not die and leave their fathers hopeless and bereft. Just co-operate with me, and all will be well.

nuclearLast week our Holy Father gave us an encyclical letter, as you probably know. Laudato Si’. Blessed be. Blessed may You be, all-powerful, most-holy Lord! May You be especially blessed through brother sun, sister moon, and sister Mother Earth. Blessed may You be, by life bubbling up everywhere.

Not to over-generalize, but: The 20th century bequeathed to us a fearful, dark outlook on things. The 20th century gave us ideas like: Nature deals in death, a law of the jungle; only the strong survive. Left to itself, nature unravels randomly and ends in chaos. Science and technology possess the ultimate power. Only our human know-how can organize and perfect the raw material. We can be ever more comfortable, if only we build better machines. Ancient religious traditions only stand in our way. 20th-century man thought that he could build better than God.

Let’s read one paragraph of our Holy Father’s encyclical…

A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable… The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world.

The blessed, all-holy Lord does not will death and destruction. He has a plan, and He moves things to unfold for life and goodness, for grassy fields for 12-year-olds to play soccer on. Jairus the synagogue official knew: Wisdom demands my co-operating with the God of Israel, Who walked the earth to unite Himself with us.

The 20th century involved mankind trying to control everything. I guess we could say that trying to control all the forces of Mother Nature works just as well as trying to control all the forces of a 12-year-old girl. Better to try to co-operate with those forces, instead of trying to control them. After all, the forces in question are fundamentally forces of life. The forces of nature, set in motion by the Eternal Word, are forces of life.

Let’s pray that the 21st century will see the human race co-operating, instead of trying to control. The human race co-operating, working together towards a common good. Co-operating with God.

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