Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow…. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin… He said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak.
Life is full of surprises. But life with Christ is full of bigger surprises.
There exists an unspoken rule in life that goes something like this: no parent should ever have to bury their child. When this rule is broken it shatters our lives and it can easily lead to a loss of faith, hope and love in a good God.
Why is this happening to me? Why would God allow a widow, who has already lost her husband, to now lose her only son? In the old days, this was like receiving a life sentence of misery. How would she survive? Who would take care of her? Why would God allow such a thing to happen?
Enter Jesus. The Lord approached her. He came into her life. He surprised her and changed her life story. Her story would not be written by her or by her circumstances. Rather, her life story would be written by the Lord. Life is full of surprises. But life with Christ is full of bigger surprises. Now remember: not all of Christ’s surprises are beautiful and fluffy. The crucifixion of the Son of God comes as a beautiful surprise to all of us, but it is not a fluffy surprise. However, we do know that the Lord’s surprises always have a happy ending. Always!
A few days ago, a mom told me a beautiful story about her daughter who received a precious gift from God by way of her late grandfather. It turns out her daughter was very sad that her grandfather did not live to see her graduation. She resented God for it. She didn’t understand why. Who would? So she attended the graduation Mass with a broken heart. After processing into Church with the other graduates, she took her place and opened her hymn book. She was shocked at what she saw: a picture of her grandfather staring right at her! He was smiling at her. The picture was from the program that was used at her grandfather’s funeral Mass. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. No one else had a copy of the program. No one on her left, right, in front of her and behind her had a copy of the photograph. Only her!
All that the Lord asks of us is that we stay the course and see things through till the end. The Lord begs us to stay by His side, to remain faithful to Him, and to not change sides near the end, and lose faith, hope or love.
When tragedy strikes close to home, it’s so easy to switch sides; that is, to go from faith in God to no faith at all. It’s so easy to lose sight of God, to stop believing and loving Him, when faith in Him is no longer “convenient” or no longer feels “comfortable” to us.
As children, so many of the Lord’s commandments seemed so obviously true and so easy to follow, especially the Sixth Commandment. But then we went to High School and then off to College, and started dating someone who actually liked us, flattered us and even spoiled us with their affection; and low-and-behold, the Commandments, especially the Sixth Commandment, suddenly became foolish, highly irrelevant and totally unnecessary. At first we tried to justify ourselves by asking ourselves, “Where in the bible does it say you can’t have sex before marriage??? I don’t see that anywhere!” Uh-huh! Oh yah! But finally we became coherent and said what needed to be said: “I don’t believe anymore.”
It’s so easy to switch sides and no longer have faith in God when following Him can be such a drag - such an inconvenience - in our personal life.
Heavenly Father, we trust in your love, even hoping against all hope. During times of trail, may our faith never grow weak but grow ever stronger by following in your footsteps. Help us to avoid becoming summer Christians and sunshine followers. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.