First Point—Of whom is this young girl the image? She is yours; because she was young, full of health, loved by her father, adored by her mother. She promised herself long years, and in her gracious carelessness she smiled on the world, which extended its arms to her. However, she dies—this only daughter, this rich heiress, this youthful beauty. Neither the nobleness of her blood, nor the dignities of her family, nor wealth, nor youth, were able to preserve her from death. She is your image, because you yourself, from one moment to another, may fall under the stroke of death, as the fragile flower falls under the scythe of the harvester.
Woe to this young girl, if, captivated by the pleasures of the world, she has loved it to the detriment of her eternal interests; if the desire to please it made her forget God; if the care of her body made her forget her soul; if she has cultivated her beauty to attract adorers; if, proud of her advantages, she has opened her heart to pride and allowed it to fall into vain projects—what a misfortune for her, and what a folly ! Death has destroyed everything, and her projects and her desires have perished. What misfortune also for you, if you imitate her in her ardor for the things of the world and her carelessness for the things of heaven. Death shall come to destroy everything, both the vanity of your projects and the folly of your illusions. On seeing her, Jesus exclaimed: "The girl is not dead, but sleepeth." It was impossible better to express the effect of sin in a soul hitherto innocent. This first fault, it is true, brings her death, but the return to life is so easy that this death is rather a sleep than a real death. The heart cannot be corrupted ; conscience has not lost its first delicacy; all the principles of life, so to speak, are living—the breath of grace is all that is needed to reanimate them. See also in what this young girl is your image. You have sinned, but your heart is not perverted; every sentiment is not extinguished; the habit is not formed. All the happy impressions of virtue which you have received still live, and a little good will is all that is necessary to restore you to grace. May you understand and profit by all these elements of sanctification.
Second Point.—Jesus begins by sending away the band of musicians who make a great tumult in this house where life must re-enter. He thus indicates to us the ordinary cause which leads to neglect in the souls of sinners, of whom this young girl is the image; also the first condition of a return to God. There carelessness has commenced with a taste for pleasures. There is in worldly diversions—in parties, balls, spectacles—a deadly vapor which penetrates the heart and excites it. Do not hope to return to the fervor of your first piety as long as you shall live in the midst of the agitation of the world. The cloud of dust which envelops the worldly soul hides from it the sight of God and the sight of duty. In retreat, on the contrary, the heart looks upon itself; it sees its state, it hears the voice of God, and nothing can hinder it from responding to His appeal. If, then, you wish to preserve grace, or to recover it, fly every occasion, all society, all reading calculated to lead you to dissipation. Do you hope to resist your passions in the midst of all that nourishes and develops them ? Do you think that you can preserve your virtue for a long time, when you expose it to the seductions which corrupt it? Do you think you can remain pious, recollected, fervent, and devoted to duty in the midst of objects which dissipate the heart, excite the imagination, and bring distaste for every duty? To believe it is the saddest of illusions. Alas, how many victims this illusion has already made!
Jesus, having dismissed the clamorous crowd which surrounded the young girl, approached her, and taking her by the hand said to her: "Young girl, arise! it is I who command you." Thus it is that God approaches the sinner in the measure that he separates from the world; He takes him by the hand. This is the grace which comes to assist our weakness. "Return to God," said Cardinal Wiseman, "and do not fear the difficulties; when you would sincerely return to good, God shall place His hand in yours and you shall overcome every obstacle." O powerful Hand, Thou unitest Thyself to a hand which is cold in death; Thou deignest to touch a corpse, and Thou givest it warmth, movement, and life! O vivifying Voice, Thou piercest the depths of the abyss; the empire of Death is shaken by Thee; she recognizes her Conqueror, and Thou compellest her to restore the prey of which she took possession. Speak to my heart, O Jesus, and if it resists speak to it more loudly and its life shall be restored. It is only Thou, O my God, who, by the application of Thy merits and the interior voice of Thy grace, can recall me to life.
Third Point.—Signs of resurrection to grace. At this word of Jesus, "Arise!" the soul re-entered the body which she had abandoned, and "immediately the young girl arose and walked. And Jesus commanded that they should give her food to eat." As the soul is the principle of human life, the Holy Spirit is the principle of the supernatural life. If the soul has truly risen, the Holy Spirit dwells there again. His presence is revealed by signs which cannot be mistaken. Upon entering the heart He spreads there a certain recollection, a taste for the things of God, which contrast with the old habits of dissipation and the pleasures which made up her worldly life. The spirit of pride has given place to the spirit of modesty and humility; charity succeeds hatred; liberality succeeds selfishness. The habits of life are as different as the dispositions of the heart. He who only frequented worldly assemblies is pleased in the midst of sacred assemblies; virtuous friends surround him whom corrupting friends had seduced and led away; charity pours into the hands of the poor the money which vanity dispensed in foolish ornaments; words of salvation and edification fall from his lips, which were opened only in falsehood and frivolity; visits to the amiable Guest of the Tabernacle replace the useless visits which begot idleness; the Spirit of God has re-entered this soul.
Jesus commands that food shall be given the young girl whom He has just restored, and thus compels the most obstinate minds to Recognize the miracle which His power had just wrought. The divine Master has prepared for us in the Holy Eucharist the food which is best suitable to sustain and develop our life as Christians. He who approaches it, and approaches it often, shall find the strength to combat, lights in his doubts, consolations in his sorrows, and supernatural life shall flow in on him with superabundance. The careless soul who remains away from it exposes herself to see the life of grace languish and little by little become completely extinct in her. The desire of this heavenly bread and the eagerness to be nourished by it are the index of the soul whom the Holy Spirit animates by His breath and enlightens by His lights.
O divine Jesus, Thou givest life to the sinner, and Thou makest even the dead hear. Speak to my
heart as Thou spoke to the daughter of Jairus. Grant that I may arise and walk, that I may receive with spiritual hunger the food Thou presentest to me, in order that I may live by Thy spirit and be nourished by Thy flesh, and that by a holy life I may come to share Thy glory.
Source: Short Instructions on the Feasts of the Year, Imprimatur 1897