Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Today readings bring to us poignant episodes in the life of God with His people: Elijah with the widow in Zarephath and Jesus with the widow in Nain, while Paul was appealing to his understanding of the Gospel through direct divine revelation.
When an only son of a widow died, it was an indication that she would be subject to losing her livelihood, her housing and her future. It was almost a sure death for her, for she had to depend on her only son to live. And Jesus was moved with pity on the widow just as Elijah was also. Both Jesus and Elijah experienced that deep movement of the Spirit within them that moved them to compassion and bring back to life the sons and returned them to their mothers. Surely, the witnesses glorified God for he has visited his people (Lk 7:16) and the word of the Lord truly came from prophet’s mouth (1Kgs 17:24).
Throughout the history of the people of God, He always manifested Himself as a life-giving God. He gave life not only physically, but also morally and psychologically, and brought joy to families. God gave back life to people’s faith in Him and in His promises, as He gave back life to many, and most especially as God raised Jesus up from the dead. Jesus, in fact, proclaimed Himself as the resurrection and the life.
Jesus brings hope to all who believe in Him. He is the hope. There would be no more despair that the widow would be in a situation of abject poverty, and with her son alive again, she would be supported till her old age. Jesus raised Lazarus up from the dead as He was “moved with pity” over the sadness of Mary and Martha and their neighbors, and particularly, because He loved Lazarus and his family; and Jesus gave him back to his family.
After the experience of suffering and death God raised Jesus up from the dead so that mankind would have the hope for eternal life; and He would be everyone’s strength, especially in the struggle against evil and sin. Jesus, even on the cross, proclaimed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Even while suffering, He was moved to pity for sinners who could return to the ways of life and truth.
St. Luke tells us of a Samaritan traveler who came upon a man left half-dead and was moved with compassion (Lk 10:33) and took him to an inn, and promised the innkeeper that he would pay him for whatever expense he would incur for the man who fell victim to robbers (Lk 10:35).
Many saints of glorious memory have shown us this virtue of Jesus to have real compassion and love for the poor, the needy and the voiceless:
– “One day while riding through the countryside, Francis (of Assisi), the man who loved beauty, who was so picky about food, who hated deformity, came face to face with a leper. Repelled by the appearance and the smell of the leper, Francis nevertheless jumped down from his horse and kissed the hand of the leper. When his kiss of peace was returned, Francis was filled with joy. As he rode off, he turned around for a last wave, and saw that the leper had disappeared. He always looked upon it as a test from God…. that he had passed (catholic.org);”
– While Martin of tours was “a soldier in the Roman army and deployed in Gaul, he experienced a vision, which became the most-repeated story about his life. One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens, he met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his military cloak in half to share with the man. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me.” In another story, when Martin woke, he found his cloak restored to wholeness (wikipedia.org); and many other stories.
It is also good to realize that God has chosen us all to give life to those who are dead because of sin and vice, to those who are depressed and lonely, to those who are dying for a little love. Let us not lose this kind of spirituality that the Lord shows us: one that makes us instruments in opening others up to the life of God and the life of the Church, for we have actually experienced God’s compassion through our parents, relatives and friends, as well as in the Sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist, the Anointing of the sick. St. Paul proclaims: it is not of human origin…. it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12).