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June 10, 2019 - Unbelievable!

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

(While in India, Fr. Satish is unable to post a new homily. Below is a past homily from reading Cycle C and you can find the relevant scripture here.)

Today’s readings tell some rather unbelievable stories – unbelievable not because God cannot accomplish great things but because stories such as the ones we have today is not a part of our normal experience. Both in the first reading and the gospel reading are two stunningly similar stories of young men being raised to life. How often have we seen that? This is hard to believe.

On the other hand, resurrection from the dead is a core belief in Christianity. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead and we also believe that one day we shall rise from the dead. There is no getting around the theme of the resurrection from the dead. Today’s reading may hold some ideas into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of our belief in the resurrection. 

First, the two stories are about widows who lost their only sons. Both in the Old Testament and New Testament time widows along with orphans were among the most helpless people in society. Oppressing widows was considered a serious sin and great virtue could be achieved by helping them as well. So on a very human level we expect men like Elijah and Jesus to intervene actively and positively when tragedy struck helpless people. And Elijah and Jesus clearly deliver. 

But Elijah and Jesus were no ordinary human beings. Elijah was a great prophet and Jesus was the Son of God. And this then is the deeper point of the readings. Both Elijah and Jesus are representatives of God’s attitude toward death and the tragedy created by death. These two stories of the resurrection of the dead along with the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead are told in a way that they capture God’s plan for all of humanity. Just and Elijah and Jesus have compassion on the widows God has compassion on us. God knows our pain and God intervenes on our behalf. And so, not just a few selected people, but all of humanity is invited to reap the benefit of God’s great love and compassion. 

As Christians though, we go a step forward about the ‘how’ of resurrection. In Jesus, God’s compassion far exceeded what humanity could ever expect. In Jesus God entered into the depths of human life and death and transformed it from within. Jesus did not just stand by a dead body or stand outside the tomb and cry out for the dead person to rise. He died the human death so that he could enter into the very depths of human devastation. And he transformed it from within by rising from the dead. In this way, God’s compassion far exceeds what we can ever imagine. So yes, the stories in today’s reading are unbelievable. But they are unbelievable not because the resurrection from the dead is not possible but rather because it is hard to imagine the depths of God’s love and compassion. 

Today’s readings, then, is not so much about death and resurrection. Rather, they are about God’s abundant compassion and love. God does not let us die. God makes it possible to share in God’s eternity. 

Let us remain grateful for what God has done for us.  

- Fr. Satish Joseph