10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C 9 June 2013
1 Kgs 17:17-24
Ps 30:2+4, 5-6, 11-12a+13b
Our community in the Philippines has got some great singers. It is true that Philippines got talent! We made our first CD and one of the songs is called “Young man, get up!” The chorus runs like this:“With one Hope we pray, for the harvest. With one Spirit we love beyond the limits. With one Mission now we preach the Good News to all, now we preach the Good News to all – We stand now at your feet. Strengthen our shaking knees with one voice let us sing, oooh . . . Young man, get up! Ooh, young man, get up! Oh, young man, get up!”
Maybe this was the background music when Jesus went to Nain where his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” Wow! What courage Jesus has, just like when he was in front of his friend Lazarus and he tells him to come out. I have witnessed this phenomenon in so many lives that I have lost count. The figure of the young man is someone dead, for example in sin. The power of the Word of Christ can raise the dead: people who are dead in selfishness or dead in their addiction to gambling and casinos. They can be brought to a new life. This is why the “Twelve Steps” program which acknowledges a Higher Power and also man’s powerlessness can be so effective in treating addictions related to alcohol, drugs or even sex.
Jesus was touched by the tears of the widow. Perhaps the woman reminded Jesus of his own Mother and his great love for her. It reminds us of St Monica who shed so many tears for her wayward son Augustine. St Monica anguished for his salvation until a priest told her,“It is impossible that a son of so many tears should perish.” This reminds us of the power of intercessory prayer for others too.
In the first reading we have a mother and widow grieving over her dead son also. The prophet Elijah goes to visit a widow whose son dies while he is visiting. Elijah calls on the Lord and makes a beautiful prayer:“O Lord, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.” The boy comes back to life and the mother declares, “Now indeed I know you are a man of God because the word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth” (1 Kings 17:17-24). This is great power given to the man of God _to bring the dead back to life. Jesus tells us that this is the sign of the coming of the Kingdom. When we think of the dead coming back to life we may get confused because we have been watching too many Zombie movies. Every time you go to confession there is a resuscitation or resurrection taking place. Sin makes you dead. For example, laziness means you always feel dead tired with no energy, the person even feels “lifeless.” Selfishness means I do not open my eyes (another sign of death) to the needs of others. When I am angry or envious the feeling kills me, eats me up. When one is gluttonous you feel like a dead weight after the binge. When pride reigns it kills relationships in families and in communities. Lust kills the pure gaze of the eyes. The seven capital sins are all here and each one causes spiritual death. In the sacrament of reconciliation, when each sin is confessed to a priest, the words of absolution bring the contrite heart back to life.
Exactly as happened in the gospel. “The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” That is why the psalmist exclaims,“I will praise you Lord for you have rescued me! O Lord, my God, I cried out to you and you healed me. Lord, you brought me up from Sheol; you kept me from going down to the pit” (Psalm 30). How many times has Jesus saved us, rescued us, given us new hope, wiped away our tears and dusted us down, ready to fight another day! St Paul in the second reading today shares his conversion, his pass over from death to life (Galatians 1:11-19). How did this change take place? Where did he receive the new life from? From the preaching of the gospel—“Now I want you to know, brothers, 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.” This is the power of the gospel.
Lord, grant us courage to be able to announce to the world of today, to many lifeless people “Young man, young woman, get up!” Amen.