June 5, 2016 — Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
All of our readings on this Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time speak to an element of renewal and revival. To be resurrected we must first seek to be renewed. That is in reality what occurs in today’s First Reading from the First Book of Kings and from our Gospel from St. Luke. They tell of people who were brought back to life as we know it. That is different from resurrection because in resurrection there is no death, but with life as we know it there is death.
It is resurrection which makes the difference. Jesus has indeed provided resurrection to us, although He provides life in today’s Gospel. The First Reading from the First Book of Kings anticipates what occurs in today’s Gospel. The Prophet Elijah finds himself in Zarephath. It is in the midst of the terrible drought which had affected the area for several years. While there, the son of a widow in the house where Elijah was residing took sick and died.
The woman knew that Elijah was a “man of God” and she appealed to him to save her son’s life. As a widow the boy was the woman’s only hope for she trusted that he would care for her as she aged. Elijah knew that he did not have the power to give the boy life, but he also knew that God could. He fervently prayed to God and as it says in the reading, “The Lord heard the prayer of Elijah.” As is the case for all, it was Elijah’s faith and the widow’s faith which saved the boy. There are many things in our lives which may cause us to question or lose our faith. The point is that we must always grasp the fact that the Lord is with us; the Lord hears us; and the Lord loves us.
One of the facets of stewardship and renewal is personal witness. St. Paul provides his witness throughout his writings and consistently. Paul points out to the Galatians that they no doubt have “heard” of his dramatic conversion, how he received a revelation directly from God, not through hearing it from another human. Paul probably shared his witness everywhere he went, and what occurred in terms of his effect on the Church is truly known by all of us.
The value of personal witness, of personal testimony, is important in conversion. Not all conversions are dramatic like Paul’s. Many of us have similar conversion stories, but we may think they are not as interesting as Paul’s, not as likely to be an impetus for conversion in others, but that is not true. It is through sharing our faith, and giving witness to it, that others may find faith. Like Paul we are called to share and spread our faith.
In Luke’s Gospel it states that Jesus was traveling to the city of Nain (not far from Nazareth) and He was accompanied by “his disciples and a large crowd.” Jesus’ fame and popularity was growing and He was accustomed to having these crowds, many more than just His apostles, follow Him. Imagine the scene. As Jesus and His assembly approach the gates of the city, another throng of people are coming out of the city, but it is a funeral procession. As mentioned, this parallels what Elijah sees and does in the First Reading. Jesus sees the mother of the dead boy, and His heart goes out to her.
Jesus speaks to the deceased boy as if he was alive, “Young man, I tell you, arise.” As pointed out Jesus does not “resurrect” the boy, but He does provide life to him. Only God can give us life, which He has done for each of us, and only God can resurrect us in the final regard. St. Paul also says in a letter to the Romans, “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” (Rom 4:17) It is this reality which provides us with hope; it is our confidence in this which gives us faith. It is this faith and hope which allow us to be witnesses to the Good News to others.