Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily

Homily:  Deacon Terry Ellerman
Blessed Sacrament Parish
June 9, 2013 - 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time
10 AM Service

And Jesus said,  “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 

Sometimes we emphasize heaven so much that we fail to remember that God is present in our midst on earth.  Our expectation is that we appreciate our life here.  Yes, we need to prepare for the fullness of heaven in Heaven, but we need to appreciate Christ here on earth.

The message of our first reading and Gospel today is about the awesome God that we have.  The God who so loves us, who so cares for us, and as we can see from the readings is such a compassionate God that he always wants us to be happy. And, he is always with us.

We look at the first reading today from the Book of Kings.  We see Elijah the great prophet. He is living and renting a room with this widow and her son.  And all of a sudden the son becomes ill.  He stops breathing and he dies.  And the widow comes to Elijah and asks, “How can this be?  How can God do this to me?”

So Elijah takes the son, brings him upstairs to a room, prays to God and says, “Please do something!”  And God does.  And the son is cured and Elijah brings him back to his mother.  Not only is the boy healed, but his mother regains her faith.

Something we need to remember from the Old Testament, and the New Testament as well, is that women and children had no status.  Therefore, if your husband died and you had no sons, you were pretty much going to be destitute unless your family came in and did something for you.  If your husband died and you had a son, you still were OK because he could make the living for you.

So in both examples from the Book of Kings and also from the Gospel of Luke, we see that not only does the mother fear and is concerned about the loss of her son, but that also her life will change drastically in many different ways.

The other thing we need to remember, and we think so much in terms of heaven and hell and in afterlife, but really when we look at the Book of Kings and the Old Testament, they didn't believe in an afterlife.  They didn't know of an afterlife. 

So when we hear this widow talking about her son, the only things they had were in this world.  It was very important that in this world they did OK, and were in the good graces of God.

Now Jesus, on the other hand, and the Pharisees and others, believed in an afterlife.  So when we look at the Gospel of Luke we have Jesus going to the town of Nain. He doesn't know anyone there.  He comes into town and sees a funeral procession.   

He finds out that here is a widow, and this is her only son.  And the Gospel said, “He was moved with pity.  He had compassion and went up to her and said, 'Don't be mournful.'  He went up and touched the casket and said, 'Arise.' ”  And the son came up.  He then gave the son to his mother.

Both examples are telling us about our God:  Of how awesome our God is, how loving he is, how compassionate he is, how caring he is.  He wants us, in our lives, to be happy.  He wants us to be whole.  He wants us to be complete.

How do we become whole and complete and happy?  

Part of the answer is that we make Jesus and God the center of who we are.  The other part is that we realize, that through our baptism, we have Christ in us.  I see Christ in this congregation.  God is always present among us to help us - if only we ask.

The question becomes:  Are we whole? Are we complete?

What in our life right now is really bothering us?  What do we need to do to help that situation?  

By being Christ to each other we are responsible for one another.  We need to be sensitive to one another and see what needs to be done to help each other.  You know miracles did not end in the Old and New Testament.  Miracles occur every day in everyone's life all the time. Sometimes the miracles are big and sometimes they are small.  But they are occurring - if only we pay attention and we listen.  Sometimes we are the vehicle in bringing that miracle to another person, and sometimes we are the recipient of that miracle.

I want to read you a short story of a person who stepped up to the plate and made a difference. The name of the story is:  “Pick Up In The Rain.”

One night at 11:30 p.m., an African-American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a horrible, horrible rainstorm.
Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.  Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.  

A young white man stopped to help her, which was generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s.  The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her in a taxicab.  She seemed to be in a big hurry!  She wrote down his address, thanked him and he drove away.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door.  To his surprise, a giant combination console color TV and stereo record player were delivered to his home.  A special note was attached.  The note read:

“Dear Mr. James,
     Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night.  The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits as well.  Then you came along.  Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away.  God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.  
     Mrs. Nat King Cole”

How many of you have ever heard of Nat King Cole?  For those of you who did not, in the early fifties and sixties he was a tremendous and very successful singer.  The point of the story is that we all need to help one another.  Sometimes there are barriers to helping one another, but we need to remove those obstacles.  The bottom line is, we all need help.  And we all need to help one another.

So the question I have for us this morning:  Are we appreciating the life that we are living?  Do we see that this is the Kingdom of God, maybe not as full as heaven, but this truly is the Kingdom of God?  And that God lives in our world.  He wants us to be happy.  He wants us to be whole.  

Are we making Christ present in our lives?  Are we making Christ present to one another?

As we approach the altar this morning to receive the real body and blood of Jesus Christ, let us use that nourishment that we receive:  First, to realize that God loves us and that God always gives us hope, and that when we are in trouble we need to come to one another.  And also that we need to be there, ready and willing to help one another.

When we look at the story, that young man didn't do anything that extraordinary.  But to Mrs. Cole, it was very extraordinary.  It was a miracle.  We are, sometimes, Mrs. Cole in need of help.  And, sometimes, we are the young man who helps one another.


Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.

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