Tenth Sunday of Year C 2013
Two widows are featured in the sacred texts today. The text from Kings tells the plight of a Sidonian woman. Scripture often talks about God’s life-giving Spirit in terms of breath. God “blew into” Adam’s nostrils “the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Elijah called out to the Lord: “O Lord, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.” With no husband, no inheritance rights and no voice, she was dependent upon her son, the man of the family. So it was with the widow of Nain in the Gospel: Her son, her only son, was her legal protector. When both widows lost their sons to death, they suffered not only the loss of a beloved child but also the loss of their rights, they lost their “social security”.
We think of death as final. We weep. Jesus establishes that death is not final, but is the beginning of fuller and everlasting life. For this we rejoice and glorify God.
Throughout his ministry among us, Jesus was a staunch protector of life. Notice that Jesus not only shows great compassion. He does not ask questions. He expresses no concerns about the widow’s past and makes no demands that she follow any particular commands or laws in the future. Jesus simply responds to the enormity of this woman’s pain, and he heals, he liberates, he creates new life.
He healed those whose lives were burdened by sickness and pain. He forgave sinners whose lives were sad and lonely because their sin alienated them from God and others. He reached out repeatedly to the poor whose lives were broken by their need. He took special care to associate with women and children, whose lives were regarded as property. He also cared for and challenged the wealthy to entrust their lives to God rather than seek security in their riches.
The life-giving motif that permeates the sacred texts today challenges the church to be a strong defender of life in all forms and at every stage of existence. Next week there is a special collection for “The Right to Life Society” Envelopes are not in your packets but available at the entrance. This defense of life requires the church to raise its voice in support of the unborn, to speak out against capital punishment and euthanasia.
The sacredness of life is under threat on a global scale. Wars take the lives of young and old, and when the violence has finally come to an end, there are no winners. All lose because the gift of life has been desecrated. Widespread famine and rampant diseases claim lives on a daily basis. No true believers can ignore our brothers and sisters who are starving and wasting away.
The dignity of human life must be preserved. We must act diligently to prevent the life-destroying evil of abuse, of every sort — physical, psychological, emotional and sexual. We must combat substance abuse as well.
Our Lord Jesus Christ did not work miracles merely for miracles' sake; his object was that his deeds might arouse wonder in the beholders and reveal the truth to those capable of understanding. St. Augustinesaid; “those who observed Christ's miracles without grasping their purpose and the meaning they had for those able to understand, simply admired the deeds. Others went further: they admired the deeds and also grasped the meaning.”
It is a greater thing to raise what will live for ever than to raise what must die again.When Jesus appeared to his disciples, “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit’ ” (John 20:22). Inspiration means taking in the breath of life and the presence of God. When the young man in the gospel was raised, his widowed mother rejoiced; when souls are daily raised from spiritual death, mother Church rejoices. This morning the church rejoices as the Spirit is breathed into Sabrina through Baptism and Confirmation. Truly you are raised to a new life in God’s Spirit. You are washed clean of every sin and have hope of eternal life. Hear in the depth of your heart: “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.”
O Lord, our God,
We too call out to you.
Let the life breath of your Spirit
come into our hearts and let them be