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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Prophets of Hope

“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. A large crowd from the city was with her. 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; at this the bearers halted, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you, arise!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, ‘A great prophet has arisen in our midst,’ and ‘God has visited his people’” (Luke 7:12-16).
When we read a miracle account in the Bible, we can become distracted by the flashy nature of the miracle and forget the human story it conveys. The miracle described in this Scripture passage shows that Jesus’ authority extends even over death and the dead. This isn’t an action movie; it’s a drama. Let’s look beyond the “special effects” and pay attention to the characters and their story.
For the widow, the young man’s death is not only emotionally devastating but also could be a material tragedy. A widow’s life was not easy in the ancient world. With no husband to support her and now no child left who to take care of her, she will live the rest of her life as a beggar.
This mix of grief at the present and horror for the future is what moves Jesus to compassion. When he tells the widow not to weep, it isn’t just an attempt to comfort her in her distress. In raising the young man from the dead, he provides for all the widow’s most basic needs. He offers physical and emotional healing to the mother as well as to the son.
Jesus’ miracle inspires the crowds to make two statements, and we should be attentive to them both. First, they call him a “great prophet,” an acknowledgement of his amazing power. But the second sums up the point of the reading: “God has visited his people!” The Gospel is not mainly about God’s power but about God’s favor, or grace. By bringing the widow hope, Jesus opens her eyes to the lengths God will go to in his love for her.
When we serve food to the homeless, show struggling kids how to succeed in school, or simply provide companionship to the elderly or lonely, we aren’t simply preparing them to receive some abstract Gospel. We show them that God is aware of their needs and is working to take care of them. We “preach” the Gospel by our actions.
– What is it like to be a small instrument of God’s hope and how have you made this part of your life?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International

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