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For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C 2013

10th. Sunday (C)

(1 Kings 17:17-24; Galatians 1:11-19; Luke 7:11-17)

We have in today’s Gospel reading a very significant miracle performed by Jesus when He raised a young man from the dead.  What most impresses us today, perhaps, is not so much the objective fact of the miracle itself ... for we believe Jesus to have been – even here on earth -- the Son of God made man, One very capable of performing such an outstanding miracle ... but the human sympathy of Jesus which led Him to spontaneously involve Himself and perform so striking a miracle with such personal and tender compassion.   There are deep and most powerful human emotions involved here which secretly stir-up and evoke our own like involvement even today, for here was a woman of ancient times whose only son had just died, and who was, moreover, already a widow.  

Jesus was deeply affected by the personal situation of this distraught woman appearing before Him: a widow, her only son now also dead, walking alone though followed by a crowd of sympathizers; walking upright in body, though her head is bowed and her heart overwhelmed with grief, as tears blind her eyes.  She is getting on in years and, most probably, has little or no idea of her future livelihood and security, let alone any hope of love and companionship.  At the best, the crowd of sympathizers would suggest that she may find herself with some happy memories of friends and family; but will that enable her to face up to an empty and threatening future?
Was Jesus at that moment foreseeing and fore-suffering His own mother’s grief and loneliness on Calvary?  Possibly.
In the course of His public ministry Jesus was frequently compared, even mixed-up, with Elijah:
Jesus went on with His disciples to Caesarea Philippi.  And on the way He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’  And they told Him, ‘John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.’ 
Now it happened that He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him.  And He asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’  And they answered, ‘John the Baptist.  But others say, Elijah ... Then He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ of God.’   (Mark 8:27)  (Luke 9:18-20)
Elijah was not only one of the prophets Jesus had heard of, but one whom He knew well – as would be shown at His Transfiguration when Elijah appeared with Moses speaking with Jesus – one who came readily to His mind at times: 
Jesus began to speak to the crowds: Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist All the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if your are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. (Matthew 11:7, 11-14)
Jesus would have been well aware of what we have just heard concerning Elijah’s miracle for the widow of Zarephath:
Elijah said to her, ‘Give me your son.’  Taking him from her lap, he carried the son to the upper room where he was staying and put him on his bed ... Then he stretched himself out upon the child three times, and called out to the Lord: ‘O Lord, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.’ 
Had Elijah stretched himself out upon the child not only three times, but also in the form of a cross: with the prophet’s outstretch arms and full length body covering those of the child so that the warmth of life might be transferred from the prophet to the child by God’s goodness and mercy?
Elijah then took the living child and, we are told, gave him to his mother.  Is that why we hear that Jesus gave to his mother the young man -- an adult – though apparently still on the bier being held by its bearers?
After Elijah restored the living child to his mother:
The woman replied to Elijah, ‘Now indeed I know that you are a man of God.  The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth. 
The word of the Lord spoken by Elijah was a prophetic word.  Jesus’ words were salvific words, words bringing salvation for mankind; and such words, Jesus knew, could only come from His Cross-transfigured heart and soul, body and being, words of life from the One Who would conquer death. 

Was Jesus at that moment foreseeing and fore-suffering His own mother’s grief and loneliness on Calvary?  Quite possibly. 

Saint Paul wanted to make most clear to the Galatians this aspect of the Gospel message in our second reading when he declared that:

The Gospel preached by me is not of human origin.  For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

And, of course, the Jesus He referred to is the Crucified and Risen Lord, for as he himself says in his second letter to the Corinthians:

The love of Christ controls us, and He died for all, that all those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him Who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.  Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. (5:14-17)

This meeting with the widow of Nain, this raising of her son from his coffin, bier, of death, was, moreover, most intimate.  Immediately before and, in St. Luke’s narrative, straight after, this incident at Nain,  Jesus restored to health the servant of a Roman Centurion and also:
Healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind He bestowed sight. (Luke 7:27

On both these occasions He spoke directly to the attendant crowds.  But not here at Nain.

When the Lord saw her He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’

Words of most sincere sympathy, surely to be heard by her alone who so needed them.  Again, on approaching the dead man’s bier He simply touched the bier to stop the bearers and then addressed the young man himself saying:

            Young man, I say to you, ‘arise.’

And then, ‘Jesus gave him to his mother.   All so tender and essentially intimate.

Was Jesus foreseeing His own mother and fore-suffering with her?  Quite probably.

Of course, the accompanying crowd could not fail to see and enthuse over what had happened, and they whole-heartedly cried out:

            A great prophet has arisen in our midst!

As did the widow of Zarephath when she said:

You are a man of God, the word of God comes truly from your mouth.

Here at Nain,  however, revelation is proceeding and there is something more; not that the people proclaiming realized just what they were saying, but was the Father perhaps once again witnessing to His Son, for: 

            All glorified God exclaiming, GOD has visited His people?

God indeed, God-made-man, was visiting His People in Jesus our Saviour Who would be stretched out on the Cross of Calvary for love of men, and Whose death and Resurrection would give life to all those touched by the words of His Gospel; because, although :

Preached by (Paul), (that Gospel) is not of human origin, but came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

That revelatory report of Jesus -- the crucified and risen Lord -- has spread throughout the intervening ages indeed, and has reached us once more this day to refresh, inspire, and comfort us with the truth it brings and the beauty it contains for us.  Truth because it is a revelation of the Risen Lord Who was crucified for us; truth because Jesus is ever the Way, the Truth, and the Life.   And Beauty, because:

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in  the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord ... I believe I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!  (Psalm 27: 4, 13) 

Truth guides and sustains, beauty inspires and comforts; so let us ever seek to embrace God’s Truth in all its Beauty as we hear and strive to understand, embrace and put into practice, the authentic Gospel proclaimed to us in Mother Church, the Immaculate Spouse of her Risen Lord and Suffering Saviour, Jesus Christ.