It is recorded in the Scriptures that once, as Jesus was journeying from place to place on his merciful ministry of healing and salvation, a certain ruler of the synagogue, Jairus, came to him and, kneeling in humility before him, implored him to come and heal his little daughter, who lay at home at the point of death. Lovingly Jesus started out with him. But we read in the Gospel of Mark (5:24), "Much people followed him, and thronged him." A woman among them who had been ill for many years came behind him and touched the hem of his garment, saying, "If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole." Jesus, knowing instantly that the healing had taken place, called her to him. "Daughter," he said to her, as tremblingly she told him of what had occurred, "thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."
While he was speaking with her, a messenger came from Jairus' home with the report that the little daughter had died. "Be not afraid," Jesus assured Jairus, "only believe." And quietly, confidently, he proceeded with him on the way. When they reached the home, however, all the evidences of death were there, and the mourners had already gathered. But when Jesus entered into the room where the child lay, he took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cumi," which means, "Damsel, I say unto thee, arise." And straightway, the Bible tells us, the child arose and walked.
Down through the ages these glorious words of life have come to us: "Talitha cumi, ... I say unto thee, arise." Not only to you but to me the Christ is speaking. To you and to me the command is given. Out of deathbeds of pain and fear, of sorrow and loneliness, of poverty, frustration, and doubt, the Christ bids us rise and be whole.
Orthodox theology has taught us to believe that the healings which took place in Jesus' time were the result of his transcendent spirituality and were applicable to his time alone. But he said (John 14:12), "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do." Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science—the Science which makes practical Christ Jesus' teaching today and every day—writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 494): "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good."
It matters not what the condition or need may seem to be, its name, its age, or the human verdict concerning it, God's eternal law of omnipotent good eliminates painlessly and completely from human experience whatever is unlike good. It was not the touching of the Master's garment that brought healing to the suffering woman long ago, but her faith in the Christ, Truth. Our part in the repetition today of those wonderful, yet perfectly natural, works of healing is faith in Truth, faith in God, absolute faith that knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is all-powerful and ever present and that His workmanship, man, is good, harmonious, and whole. This kind of faith is the spiritual understanding of which Jesus spoke when he said (John 8:32), "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
In these days, when the problems of men and nations seem to be so hopelessly entangled and confused, we may ask: "How can faith in God solve our problems? And where is God?" Out of the pages of Holy Writ comes the answer that God is Life, Truth, Love, everywhere present. Man is never separated from God; man is never alone. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee," He tenderly assures us (Isa. 41:10): "be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
A young American sailor on duty in Korea proved this to be true. Before leaving for Korea, he wrote his mother not to worry about him, that he was not alone. Recently a letter from him related the following experience: As a diver he was ordered undersea to find and raise a pontoon hatch cover lost by a civilian ship. "I dove for two days trying to find it," he said. "At the end of the second day I was about ready to give up when I found myself wedged under some old railroad ties and deep in mud. I started to get a little nervous because it was awfully cold down there and I was terribly tired. But I told myself: 'You've been in tight places before; what did you do? First you took hold of yourself and relaxed.' As I did this I found myself repeating the twenty-third Psalm, especially the words, 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.' It's amazing," he continued, "how much strength comes to a tired body with a little faith that you are not alone." He was soon liberated, and located and helped raise the cover; then he himself was raised to safety. "Now I know," he added, "that I'm never alone."
We can always know that we are never alone, but that God is ever with us. At home, in the office, in the busy marts of trade, deep in the mud under water—there God is; and we have only to stretch out our hands to Him to find the healing and deliverance that we need.
"Talitha cumi." In "The People's Idea of God" Mrs. Eddy writes (p. 8): "Mind, that governs the universe, governs every action of the body as directly as it moves a planet and controls the muscles of the arm. God grant that the trembling chords of human hope shall again be swept by the divine Talitha cumi, 'Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.' Then shall Christian Science again appear, to light our sepulchres with immortality."
"Talitha cumi." Let us take Christ Jesus at his word. The little girl of long ago did so, and instantly she was healed. Jesus' authority came not from his personal presence at her bedside, but from God, ever-present—forever present—omnipotent Truth. We live and move and have our being in Truth. We can no more be out of its presence—out of the presence of God—than we can be out of the presence of the multiplication table. God is the one great primal, universal, and only cause, the only power, the only presence. With the authority of Truth the Saviour could say, "Damsel, I say unto thee, arise," knowing that no evil could possibly withstand the power of divine Truth. We too can know this. Confidently, expectantly, we can turn to God in prayer, and as surely as two and two are four, we shall have our answer.
Dr. Robert A. Millikan, Nobel prize winner, head of the California Institute of Technology, told the country's leading physicists recently that a lifetime of scientific research has convinced him that "there's a divinity that shapes our ends," as Shakespeare says. "A purely materialistic philosophy," Dr. Millikan stated, "is to me the height of unintelligence."
We commune with divinity when we pray. But we cannot pray and doubt at the same time. Prayer acknowledges the omnipotence of God; doubt denies it. When Jesus said, "Talitha cumi," he did not doubt the efficacy of God's power and love to save and to heal. Neither should we. Never in the history of the world was prayer so needed as it is today; never was faith so much needed—faith in God, faith in ourselves, and faith in our fellow man. Doubt never achieves anything; defeatism never builds anything; nor does materialism heal. But faith and prayer do achieve, do build, do heal.
"Talitha cumi." Let us keep these words in our hearts. They are as potent today as they were when the Master first spoke them. Let us know that God governs men and nations everywhere, today and forever, and that trusting Him we can arise, all of us, out of the depths of fear and pain into the glorious freedom of God's children. "Citizens of the world," Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 227), "accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right." With quiet courage and triumphant faith let us arise, and be free.