Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I I Kings 17:17-24
Psalm 30:4-6, 11-13
Reading II St. Paul to the Galatians 1:11-19
Gospel Luke 7:11-17
This morning we celebrate the tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our readings this morning talk to us about what love really is: that love is attentiveness, that love is empathy, that love is compassion, and that love is acting with compassion. In the First Book of Kings we see Elijah the prophet in exile and living with a widow and her only son. All of a sudden one morning the son begins to have difficulty breathing and then stops breathing. The widow asks Elijah, “How could your God do this to me? What have I done for this to happen?” Elijah took the son, took him to his room, prayed to God and said, “God, would you please restore his life?” God listened and the son was revived. He then brought the son back to his mother and his mother said, “And now I know, you truly are from God.”
Similar to our First Reading is our Gospel reading. We see Jesus coming into town. Because of his preaching and healing, by this time, his powers are increasing. So as he is headed into town he sees another crowd approaching him. It is a funeral and it is a funeral of a widow whose only son has died. Jesus could have avoided the funeral and taken another road and gone around them — but he didn’t. He met them face on, looked at the mother, and said, “Don’t weep.” He then touched the wicker pyre and said, “Sit up.” The boy sat up and Jesus then took him to his mother.
In both stories we have widows who have lost their only son. As Father Mike said in the story to the children, “To be a woman at the time of Christ was not an easy thing. You were not equal. You were nothing. Your life and livelihood depended on your husband or your son.” In these two readings, not only were the widows grieving a son that they loved dearly but they were grieving because they were going to be in poverty. The only way they could continue to live is if their families gave them money, or if they begged.
But there is a difference between the stories and the difference is: Elijah did not raise the widow’s son, but God did. In the Gospel it is Jesus, through his own power, who raised the young boy to life.
So what does this all have to do with us? Jesus came to this earth to die for our sins, but he also came to show us how to love and to live. He taught us the importance of being attentive to the things around us. He taught us how to be empathetic and to be able to put ourselves into that person’s position and then to have compassion. But then more than just to have compassion, to put that compassion into action and to do something. So I think today we are called to look at ourselves and ask, “How do we do that? How are we at being attentive to those around us?”
We have a great faith-based community here at Blessed Sacrament Parish. Father Mike and I are always saying we need to get to know each other better and to introduce yourself to the person in the pew ahead of you, behind you, and to the side of you. If we truly are a community then we need to get to know each other as best we can. You we do not get to know and listen to others we will never find out about their needs. And when we see the need that means a relationship of some sort should be developed. So the more we get to know each other, the more we can be attentive to each other, and respond to each others needs — this is what Christ has called us to do.
This is not always an easy thing to do. I look at our parish and our city and I think we do a fairly good job. In our parish we have the St. Vincent DePaul Society whose goal is to help those who are in need. We have the Circle of Caring that helps someone in our own parish who has a need. We have Homebound Ministry, the parishioners who take communion to the sick. But do we know of all the sick in our parish who could be using the homebound communion? Are there members of our parish who have a need that the Circle of Caring knows about so they can help? It takes all of us together to look around and say, “Hey. I know someone who has an issue. Can we help?”
As a parish we look at the Hammer family who is adopting a child and bringing that child to this country and home to Quincy and this parish. As a faith community we have helped gather money in all different ways to help them do this. In our parish we have families who have financial problems because of sickness. When we are told about these needs, we not only gather to listen and to put ourselves in their place in terms of empathy, but then we must show compassion and do something about their needs.
We hear of random acts of kindness. Maybe random acts of kindness do not meet a specific need but rather, in one sense, kind of anticipate a need. For example: You are in line at McDonald’s Restaurant and you say, “I am going to pay for the person behind me.” You know nothing about that person behind you. You assume they have money to pay for their meal but beyond that, you know nothing. How many of you have ever had a random act of kindness shown to you? How did you feel? Good. How many of you have ever done a random act of kindness for someone else? You felt good. You felt better than if you received something from someone else.
That’s because that is how God is. That is because that is how God has made us and wants us to respond and to act. Our first commandment in our Gospel says that: We have a God who so loves us, who so cares for us that he is always there to meet our needs. Does he take all the suffering away? No. Was he spared suffering? No. How did Jesus make it through the cross and the crucifixion? He made it because of his heart. He made it because of his Mother and those around him who loved him — the same way we do — but we have that suffering and we need to reach out to one another. Sometimes it is important to listen, and then act, and we need to do that and be more attentive so we can then help.
We probably need to be more attentive to those in our own family. In one sense, we probably listen less to our family than we listen to those people at work because we live with our family everyday and it becomes common and ordinary. But sometimes it is our family members who are the ones we need to listen to more, and respond to more than anyone else.
So what is the message today? The message is: We have a God who loves us, wants us always to be happy, wants us to be healed, and in doing those miracles — he needs us to do them. We need to be his vessel, we need to be his instrument, we need to be his hands and feet. And if we do all those things we are truly being Christ to one another and truly building up the Kingdom of God. For we are called to go in peace and serve and love the Lord. We are called to go in peace to glorify the Lord by our life. We are called to go in peace by listening to one another, by having empathy for one another, compassion for one another and even more than that — to put that compassion into action and to be Christ to one another.
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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0045)