Reflection for Sunday – June 5, 2016
Readings: 1 Kings 17: 17-24; Galatians 1: 11-19; Luke 7: 11-17
Preacher: Sue Howard
Oh God, help me!! Lord, Give me strength! Christ, save me from my mistakes! Haven’t we all had to say these words at some time in our life?
Perhaps you’ve had a tragedy like the mothers in today’s readings: losing a child, or becoming destitute by no cause of your own. Those losses may bring the embarrassment of poverty, loneliness, a lack of joy for life. It may be you’ve had an illness that saps the life out of you, or made a terrible mistake that changes your life forever. There are addictions and bad habits that have ruined a family or abuse that has broken the spirit of one who is loved.
Are you looking for signs and wonders to see if Jesus can really help you? Are you looking for a miracle to see if God exists? Whatever the circumstance of our misfortune, no matter what age or station in life, God is there to heal us! He will bring us into communion with the divine love that Jesus has shown us with his saving actions.
We know this because God’s plan is revealed in the three stories we hear today. Elijah, a great prophet of the Hebrew Tradition, has been told by God to turn back from his way of thinking and behaving like a zealot and to embrace a new way of living. This has brought him into the back country, a place where he can pray in solitude, where as circumstances happen he is given the opportunity to call on the name of the Lord to save the life of a child.
There are three saving actions in this story: Elijah is saved from his past way of life, the child is saved from death and the mother who is not of his faith, but a worshiper of Baal, is saved from destitution. She proclaims, “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God. The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth.” With these words she is telling us that God truly cares for His people, no matter if we are poor or in some far off deserted land, or if we are far from being a true believer, He is actively attentive to our needs. Her revelation infuses her whole being and she comes to believe that “the word” which we also know is God’s saving power, the same power that created the world and the whole universe, is truth.
In the second reading we hear about Paul’s story. His life has been completely turned around. He has been converted from a zealot, who with great righteousness sought violence against those who he thought were being traitors to the faith, to a man of God and believer in Christ. In a most interesting mirror image of Elijah, he too goes off to a deserted place which the scriptures call Arabia. Some scholars say this may be a reference to Mt. Sinai, the place where God spoke to Moses and the place where Jesus delivers the Sermon on the Mount. It is a place where one can be close to God and hear his voice and change one’s life. From here he turns back to the deserts of Damascus, just as Elijah was told to turn back. Here he can take time away in solitude to be refashioned, remade, and reborn, into a new life that will allow him to proclaim the Lord in truth. He realizes that God had called him from the moment he was conceived in his mother’s womb, that he totally, in all his thoughts and deeds belongs to God. Not because of any action on his own part, but because God chose Paul to be the one to tell unbelievers about Christ.
Yet again in the third reading we have Jesus who has just returned from the mountain where He had been praying. He wills to affect change, not just for his believers, but for unbelievers, the whole world! He has delivered the Sermon on the Plain and healed the Centurion’s slave. But now, out of nowhere, without being asked, he brings a widow’s son back from the dead. She exclaims, “ God has visited his people.” Her life is restored. God’s love is made a reality through the actions of his son Jesus, the one true miracle himself raised from the dead.
Three stories about God’s saving power. These stories follow the great Solemnities of the Holy Trinity, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. How much more do we need to hear about the greatness of God to know that God cares about us as individuals and all of humankind. God knows what you need before you even ask. There is nothing you have done that cannot be restored. So in prayer and petition we ask for God’s healing to free us from doing evil and lead us to what is right and just. With confidence we can declare to all we meet that God is our deliverer and our saving strength. And with his grace and mercy we will come to love one another the way God loves us. We will know joy!