Saturday, June 4, 2016

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

No Need to Ask

Every Christian knows that Jesus performed miracles. What most Christians are not aware of is that there were times when Jesus performed them on his own initiative. During these times nobody asked him a favor but he gave it anyway. The story in our Gospel reading today tells us of this instance when Jesus performed a miracle without being asked for it.

Of course, many of Jesus' miracles were requested by people, directly or indirectly. His first miracle was indirectly asked by his mother. She told Jesus that the diners in the banquet had no more wine. This was an indirect request by Mary in effect saying, "Please, provide wine." In Mark chapter 8 it is related that some people brought a blind man and they begged Jesus to touch him (22-26). This was a direct request by the people.

But there were cases when Jesus worked a miracle without being requested to do so. One such case is related in John chapter 5. As Jesus was walking by the Sheep Pool he noticed a man who had been sick for a long time, thirty eight years. He took the initiative of asking this man a question and healed him there and then.

In our Gospel reading today there was this case again of Jesus taking the initiative of working a miracle and this is no ordinary miracle. It was a very special miracle, raising a dead man to life. Ostensibly Jesus was going to the city of Nain, about 8 kilometers from Nazareth, Jesus' hometown. There was a large crowd accompanying him and his disciples. As he approached the gate of that city a dead man was being carried out for burial. Luke the writer says that Jesus was moved with pity for the dead man's mother and that he told her, Do not weep. Then he touched the bier where the dead man was laid and Jesus addressed the dead man, Young man, I tell you, arise. The dead man sat up and spoke something, indications that he had life again. Then Jesus finished this miracle by giving the risen man to his mother.

Raising the dead to life was not performed by Jesus only. Elijah did it with a widow's son (1 Kings 17). Elisha, Elijah's successor, did it with the Shunammite's son (2 Kings 4). Peter and Paul also performed such miracle, Peter in the case of Tabitha (Acts 9) and Paul in the case of Eutychus (Acts 20). It is interesting to note that in all these instances they were not requested to raise the dead. Even the other two instances of raising of the dead by Jesus were not requested of him, the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5) and the more sensational raising of Lazarus back to life.

For most of us we think that death is the end of life. Scriptures tell us it is not the end. Life can  be restored even after it is taken away. In all the instances of raising the dead, compassion had a principal part to play, especially in the case of Jesus.

These resurrections of a physical  body are signs of a more important resurrection, the resurrection of the soul from death, from a life separated from God. Paul reminded the Christians, "But God is rich in mercy; because of his great love for us he brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin. By this favor you were saved. Both with and in Christ Jesus he raised us up and gave us a place in the heavens." (Ephesians 2:4-6)

Now some of us may say, Would that Jesus would raise some of our dear departed ones today. We do not realize that Jesus continues to raise the dead today. He is the same compassionate Jesus. During his physical lifetime he raised the dead but these persons with their lives given back to them merely continued the life that they had started, lived and left. It is as if they just paused their life by dying, then resumed life as usual after they were brought to life again. But now Jesus raises us from death in sin to a completely new life, a life with God himself. Paul says, with Christ and in Christ God raises us up and gives us a place in the heavens so that now we live a heavenly life. Because of this heavenly life in us now Paul tells us, "Since you have been raised up in company with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms where Christ is seated at God's right hand" (Colossians 3:1).

We were dead in sin. We could not take the initiative. But Jesus had compassion on us. He raised us up from death on his own initiative, just like what he did to the son of that widow in Nain. Our baptism reflects this process of Jesus raising us up from sin. We were raised to a completely new life, a heavenly life, life with God in the heavens. So great is God's mercy and compassion for us.

Let us say one of the shortest and most effective prayers in all of history as we bow down our heads.

O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Amen.

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