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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Tenth Sunday Of Ordinary Time

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As we return to “Sundays in Ordinary Time,” the liturgy begins with the tenth week! Why I hear you ask? Well by beginning here after Lent, Easter and the various feast days that are held on a Sunday the numbering will come out right at the 34th and last week at the end of the church year. Then, on December 1 this year, we’ll begin another church year with the First Sunday of Advent! (Now you know why this Sunday is the “Tenth Sunday”!) So As you can see it can be a bit of a jump to get back into the pattern of readings for the season of ordinary time. Readings chosen  are not the particular ones to celebrate a particular feast or mystery such as Corpus Christi or Pentecost, but the Sunday by Sunday continuous reading of the Gospel and Apostolic Letters. So this Sunday we get back into Saint Luke’s Gospel with the dramatic story of the raising of the widow’s son in the town of Nain.

 The ‘theme’ that unites the scriptures today is found in the psalm: “For me you have changed my mourning into dancing.” Our faith  tells us that the death and resurrection of Jesus has changed death forever – just as both Jesus and Elijah changed it in the stories read today. Christians will always mourn the death of loved one mother, father brother sister or whatever  just as Jesus himself wept over his friend Lazarus: but Christian mourning, while acknowledging grief, will also contain the hope of life and the hope of resurrection, as revealed in the stories we hear today.

 We look to Jesus as the Lord: he is the Son of the Father, the conqueror of death, who has visited us from on high to redeem us. In today’s gospel we see this in his raising a young man from the dead in Nain. We recall this incident from our memory of Jesus not because we expect miracles to happen like this every day, but because they remind us that the life Jesus gives us is not bounded by death. He gives us a new way of living in this world and the promise of the fullness of life with the Father in the world to come. The Gospel of Luke is the Gospel of the Compassionate Lord.  The message is clear: the Lord cares for each of us as individuals.  He is not too big for us, or too great for us.  In fact, He shows His greatness in the concern He has for each of us.And He calls us to follow. To be as He is.  In the Gospel of Matthew, we come upon the order “Be perfect as my heavenly father is perfect.”  In the Gospel of Luke the same directive is rephrased to: “Be compassionate as my heavenly father is compassionate.” It is impossible for us to be too caring, too giving, or too concerned about others.  It’s just difficult.  We have busy schedules.  We can’t handle additional emotional grief.  We find excuses why we can’t spend time with a family with a sick child, or with the elderly lady down the block. Many times people have said to me, “My child came down with cancer, and all my friends became strangers.” We were surrounded with help at first, but as the weeks became months and he became sicker and sicker, many people seemed to disappear.  Perhaps that’s because it hurts to expose ourselves to another’s grief.  But this hurt can bring support, this hurt can bring healing.  Sure, we are busy.   Jesus was busy too.  But He didn’t look for excuses to stop everything and reach out to the hurting. His heart went out to those in need.  He was compassionate. 

 The practical challenge, from reflecting on this miracle story, is to be convinced about God’s merciful love and to be sensitive to the difficulties of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. God is indeed compassionate, and Jesus is proof that God has visited his people. Just as the crowd who witnessed the widow’s dead son being brought back to life instantly recognised that this was the work of God, so we, too, strive to recognise God working, albeit perhaps less dramatically, in the events of our own daily lives. God was close to the widow of Nain and he is also close to each one of us. His heart goes out to us too.  He cares about every one of us.  And He calls us to be like him, to be compassionate. We remember what He said after He washed His disciples feet before the Last Supper: “What you have seen me do, you must do.” We have to allow the compassion of the Lord to flow through us to others. may god change our mourning into dancing as we  go forward in Peace as we continue our faith Journey 

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