Today’s Gospel reveals the beauty of Jesus’ character in his willingness to engage a desperate father despite his own tiredness, his gentle mercy with a hemorrhaging woman, and the incredible resurrection of a dead little girl.
How I love the miraculous phrase that Jesus utters as he grabs the little girl’s hand, raising her back to life, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” I would love to have stood in that sacred space as that miracle happened! Yet as my heart stirs to learn from him in this passage, what really stands out to me is Jesus’ simple instruction that she be given something to eat.
Motherhood is a sacred invitation to participate deeply in the life of Christ. I remember this realization rushing upon me once again at the birth of my fourth child, Isaac. My husband and I had suffered the loss of eight babies to miscarriage before Isaac was born. My labor with him was long and difficult and scary, with my oxygen plummeting at the end. Suddenly, there he was. Beautiful and perfect, big blue eyes and huge dimples, smiling moments after birth.
Tears of joy flowed freely from my eyes—bringing a new life into the world feels holy. Overwhelmed with the sweet miracle of his birth against all odds, I thanked God for my son’s new life. Moments later he was nursing hungrily and my heart was full.
And then he didn’t stop nursing for a year. Or at least that is what it felt like. Long cluster feedings kept me up for hours at night. During the day he would nurse for an hour only to scream hungrily thirty minutes later. I felt exhausted from giving him something to eat.
Still, isn’t that part of the miracle? Isn’t this, too, holy? As mothers we participate in the breathtaking moments of our children’s births, or the first time that we hold them as adoptive mothers, and it all feels so glorious and miraculous and sacred—much like I imagine the little girl’s resurrection would have been. And then we give them something to eat. Over and over again, nursing, feeding, shopping, cooking, washing dishes, sweeping crumbs from the floor, falling into bed exhausted only to start over again the next morning. This, too, is miraculous. This, too, is participation in Christ’s love, his life, his example. He gives our children life, yes, but he also asks us to feed them, to love them, to serve them.
As we lovingly do what he asks, we imitate him, embody him, and participate in his nature. Even in the least miraculous feeling moments, we are becoming more like him. This transformation in us, perhaps, is the most amazing miracle of all.