1 Kings 17:17-24; Ps 30:2,4-6, 11-13; Galatians 1:11-19; Luke 7:11-17
We now make a great leap in our Sunday worship services. We prepared for Easter with 40 days of prayer, fasting and good works. We remembered the passion and death of Jesus. With great solemnity we celebrated Christ’s glorious resurrection from the dead. Then we prepared 50 days for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We followed that with the Biblical understanding of the Holy Trinity, three persons in one God. Last week we celebrated the real presence of Jesus remaining with us in a very unique way every day, all over the world, in the Eucharistic Liturgy (Mass).
After all those core faith celebrations we go back to Ordinary Time where we were before Lent began. We are at the tenth week of Ordinary Time. This Sunday we look at two miracle stories. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, St. Paul lists 9 of many divine powers for reaching out to help others. There is a difference between healings and miracles. In healing God empowers a person or team to bring multiple physical or spiritual ways to helping others heal more quickly. I see miracles referring to an extraordinary manifestation of God’s power transcending human laws. The general characteristics of miracles is that they: 1) are of a spiritual or moral nature, 2) are seen by others, 3) do not necessarily dependent on the recipient’s faith and 4) promote another person’s welfare.
Jesus passes on his healing ministry
In the three years of Jesus’ public ministry, 20% of his early time was spent healing and delivering people from evil spirits. Jesus passed on his healing ministry to his earliest followers, some 120 men and women. And that ministry continues in the church today. The longer ending of St. Mark’s gospel (Mk 16:15-18, NAB 1970) tells us:
Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation. The man (person) who believes in it and accepts baptism will be saved; the man who refuses to believe in it will be condemned. Signs like these will accompany those who have professed their faith: they will use my name to expel demons, they will speak entirely new languages, they will be able to handle serpents, they will be able to drink deadly poison without harm, and the sick upon whom they lay their hands will recover.
In the first reading today, the prophet Elijah brings back to life the dead son of the widow of Zarephath. Thus some people came to faith in the prophet’s message. In the gospel today Jesus is traveling with a large crowd of his followers and enters the town of Naim. They meet a large funeral procession going to bury a widow’s son. Jesus felt compassion for the mother. He stepped forward and touched the litter. The bearers stopped. Jesus said: “Young man, I bid you get up.” And he did. All were astounded and realized a great prophet had come. We know more than a prophet. One who can bring us out of the death of sin and disobedience into the glorious light of God. Amen.
Continuing the healing ministry of Jesus
We see Christ’s church continuing this healing ministry in our hospitals, nursing homes, addiction centers and even at each daily Mass. Before communion the priest says: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” In the earlier English translation, we prayed for 40 years, we said: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed.” That translation is much clearer in what we do when we receive the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
We hope that the indwelling Holy Trinity we received from baptism is still there, unless we have thrown them out through serious sin. Receiving Jesus in communion is experiencing Jesus filling us with more of his love and healing. In a sense he is charging our “battery,” and filling up our “gas tank.” He gives us more of his divine power so we can bring his love to others we see each day. Isn’t that amazing and awesome?
Two resurrection miracles
In the two miracles stories this Sunday, we have two sons who had died with widowed mothers. In those days they did not embalm. In the first story Elijah brought the young man back to life. In the gospel, Jesus had pity on the mother of an only son being taken for burial. Jesus raised him from the dead and gave him back to his mother in the midst of a large, shocked, crowd. Amazing. Something like Jesus and Peter walking on water.
We can also see this in communion and confession when Jesus brings us back from the death of sin to experience God’s love and forgiveness. Let us rush to be closer to Jesus in the sacraments and our daily prayer life. And continue to beg him to rescue his lost sheep and pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for the conversion of the worldwide terrorists. They too need to experience the awesomeness of His love for them.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz.
(© 2016 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)