08 June 2013

SET THEM UP A DATE!

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 7:11-17 (1 Kgs 17:17-24 / Ps 30 / Gal 1:11-19)

The Word of God is ever alive and always life-giving, but there is no escaping from the stench of death in the readings today.  Death is everywhere!

In the first reading, the sickness of the son of a widow from Zarephath proved to be fatal.  He was all she had, but even he was taken from the widow.  Both son and mother could have died from starvation, for a severe famine hit their land.  But a more ruthless blow struck her heart: she, already a widow, lost her son as well.  Having buried her husband, she soon had to prepare the burial of her son.

But she was already burying him in the Gospel today.  Another widow, another son.  Another mother, another dead son.  No more preparations, already a procession.  Was she dragging her feet in that parade that she certainly knew would lead to her son’s grave?  She had no words to say, only tears to weep.  Her support group was large, said the evangelist Luke, and yet she seemed to be oblivious of the crowd.

In the darkness was where he was, so said Saul-now-Paul in the second reading today.  He was blinded by his zeal for Judaism and thought that the disciples of Jesus were enemies of God.  And so, relentless, we pursued the followers of Jesus; merciless, he approved of their murder.  No wonder, when Jesus, the Light of the world, revealed Himself to him on the road to Damascus, he fell from his horse seeing the Light but had to be helped to his feet already blind.  Paul was Saul blinded by his zeal.  Saul is now Paul given a new sight, a new life, by the Lord.

The first reading and the Gospel point to the biological death of the sons of two widows while the second reading refers to the spiritual death of Paul.  The stench of death pervades the readings today but the God’s Word overpowers it with the scent of life.

Elijah was God’s prophet, His spokesperson, a servant of God’s Word.  The Creator of all the living heard his prayer and brought the widow’s son back to life.  He was God’s messenger of the word of life to the mother and son of Zarephath.

Paul, spiritually dead prior to his Damascus experience, was living in darkness.  The Word of God was revealed to him, not only calling him out of the darkness of his former tomb but choosing him to be the fearless and tireless preacher of the Word of Life.  For all times, he stands as a shining example that no one is a hopeless case for God.  Indeed, saints have pasts and sinners have a future.

The other widow in the readings today met Life Himself in a city called Nain.  At the sight of death and despair, this very Life Himself could not but be moved.  He met death and the dead lived again.

We may be alive and kicking now.  We may be breathing in and out now.  We may be physically and biologically living.  But we, too, may be reeking with the stench of death.  What is it that is already dead in us?  What is it in our life that is undeniably dying?  Shall we bury it?  Or should we rather have it enlightened by the Word of God?  Should we despair?  Or shall we keep faith in the Word of Life instead?

Jesus is the Word of God.  He is the Word of Life.  Jesus is life Himself.  This is what we celebrate in every Eucharist.  He is whom we receive as our nourishment in every Holy Mass.  Jesus is our Life.

Jesus is moved when He sees our mourning.  If only we really spend time to pause, be quiet, and reflect on our lives, we cannot miss noticing the times when Jesus steps forward, touches our “coffin”, and says, “My child, I tell you, arise!”  Jesus is God who allows Himself to be moved by what we are going through.  In Jesus, we experience the God who permits to be touched by us.

The Lord is moved by our life circumstances and we have been touched by the life-giving love of the Lord.  The same life-giving love urges us to make our love life-giving, too.  Caritas Christi urget nos! (2 Cor 5:14)  The Lord is always moved by what happens to us.  Let us then allow ourselves to be moved by the Lord, too, so that what happens to our brethren may move us.

As it is in the Gospel today, may people – especially those who are dying and despairing – recognize through our life-giving love that God continues to visit His people.  Let us be prophets of life, for there are still many widows of Zarephath in our days.  Let us be revelations of God, for there remains a Saul waiting to be a Paul in some dark corner of this world.  Let us always strive to be like Jesus, for countless widows are yet leading their son’s funeral procession.

Life has met death in us.  Jesus raised us up.  Let life meet death in others.  May we set them up a date!

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