10th Sunday in Ordinary Time. June 9th 2013
1 Kings 17:17-24; Gal 1:11-19; Lk 7:11-17
Jesus said, “Do not weep”…and then “He stepped forward and touched the coffin.”
I used to go and pray sometimes in an abortion clinic in Granite City a few Saturdays of the month. I noticed a family that was constantly there praying for the women who came to this clinic to destroy the life of the unborn in their womb. I noticed how these family members would speak to these women lovingly and invite them to talk and pray with them. They would then counsel the women on the sanctity of every human life, reminding them of the caring option to abortion called adoption, reminding them that God is with them and will surely provide for them and their babies. They reminded these broken and scared women of the love of God for them and the pains that linger long after the life of the unborn is terminated. They did something more than say all these, but they will take the women into their little van and show them a free ultrasound of the baby in their womb. Most times, when they women saw this image, they would change their mind and choose to keep their child, giving praise to God for the gift of new life.
This is the nature of true compassion that brings greater praise to God in the midst of all the darkness of the world. This family did not waste time cursing the darkness of the culture of death. They did not stop at talking about God’s plan for the unborn or their mothers. They could not change the minds of all who promoted or provided abortion but they chose to speak words of hope and comfort and then to do what they could do. God is greatly praised when we too are willing to speak the healing and comforting words to others and do the little that we can do.
Today’s First Reading shows us the Prophet Elijah facing the widow in Zarephath whose son had died while the Prophet was with them. The woman is filled with both sorrow for her son’s death and the guilt that comes from her sins. Elijah the Prophet does more than talk but does what he could do – pray. He takes the child into the upper room and prayed for his resuscitation and stretched out three times over him. The child returns to life and the widow gives praise to God saying; “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God. The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth.” She begins to believe in the living God whom had sent the Prophet to her. We bring greater praise to God in the darkness of our world when we too choose to speak consoling and hopeful words and to do what we can.
The Gospel shows us Jesus on His journey to Jerusalem but stopping in the city of Nain as he notices the pain of the widow who lost her only son. A widow in the time of Jesus is one who is helpless and insignificant. The loss of this widow’s only son has only added to her pains and sense of worthlessness. Jesus does not remain indifferent to her pains. Jesus, “moved with pity,” first of all speaks words of hope and encouragement to her, “Do not weep.” But He does not only talk; He does what He alone can do as God – to bring back life to the dead. He “stepped forward and touched the coffin” and said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The young man is resuscitated and people praise God saying, “God has visited His people.” God receives greater praise because Jesus Christ spoke words of hope and comfort and then “stepped forward” to do what He could do.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we live in a world where many are hurting and suffering. We witness hunger, injustice, death, misery and all such evils. It is so easy for us to curse the darkness and to condemn the world. It is also easy for us to talk theology about God and His will. We must not be satisfied with talking alone. It is so easy for us to feel helpless and even to be drawn into negativity in our lives. Do we ever stop and reflect on the power of good that God’s Spirit has filled us with? St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that the Gospel he preached “is not of human origin.” We too who believe in the Gospel have this divine power of good within us that is stronger than the human misery we experience. We may not be able to overcome the darkness but if we too choose to bring hope and healing by our words and to do the little that we can do, we bring about greater praise for God even in our dark world.
When I arrived here in the Philippines in 2011, I learned that the Church of the Philippines is called the Church of the Poor. We see the poor and abandoned everywhere we look. I felt helpless in helping them to meet their needs. Our apostolate is to preach Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, to give retreats, to teach and defend the faith, and to aid the clergy in the area. We do not have a direct apostolate in providing the needs of the poor. But I came across the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation dedicated to the poorest of the poor. I know that I cannot join them in bringing food, medicines and necessities to the poor always. But I can serve as spiritual director for the religious sisters, I can teach them classes on spirituality; I can offer them priestly service with a generous heart. This way I too can partake of their mission. That is my own way of helping out, that is my way of “stepping forward” like Jesus and “touching the coffins” around me so that God be better praised.
We too cannot all be serving the poor directly. We too cannot console all those who are hurting and in pain. We all cannot be medical doctors in a medical mission to the poor. Surely we cannot raise the physically dead to life!! But we all can bring about greater praise to God when we choose to speak words of hope and healing and courageously step forward out of our comfort zone and do the little that we can, to touch the “coffins” around us and let God be better praised.
In this Eucharist, Jesus continues to look at us with pity. He sees the pains and sufferings of this earth. He speaks to our broken world the comforting words, “Do not weep.” But He does more, He does what He alone can do – to give Himself to us under the forms of bread and wine so that He can be among us and lead us to bring greater praise to God in our dark world. God’s power in us alone overcomes all the misery of humanity. We will know that we have this power when we too step forward to touch the needy in our midst.
We look to the Mother of God, Mary most Holy. She heard of the pregnancy of her aged cousin Elizabeth from the Angel Gabriel. Most likely Mary, as a young virgin, did not know all about child bearing. Besides, what help could she offer her aged and barren cousin who was giving birth at such an old age? How could she take away the anxiety of Elizabeth? How could she console Elizabeth’s dumb husband Zachariah? But Mary chose to go and bring words of hope and to do what she could, even if it involved little inconsequential household duties. She saluted Elizabeth and then remained with her for three months bringing greater praise to God from herself, Elizabeth and Zachariah. What wonderful words of praise came from the grateful heart of Elizabeth; “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” No matter the worries that she faced, God is praised because Mary spoke the words of hope and chose to do the little that she could do.
Darkness and death may appear to be overwhelming. But God has empowered us to bring greater praise to Him in this dark world. We are only called to speak hopeful and healing words and then step forward and do the little that we can do. God will do the rest and bring about fitting praise.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!