Saturday 8 June 2013

TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - Will you believe first in order that you might see?

To read the texts click on the texts:1Kings 17:17-24; Galatians 1:11-19; Luke 7:11-17

One of the effects of our modern way of thinking is that we have stopped believing in miracles. There are many reasons for this. One of these is that today more than ever, we are able to find rational explanations for most of the happenings in our world. Also, we live in an age where at a click of a button we can find answers to most of our questions and so are able to explain how things work and why they do not work. Yet another reason is that because we have become too rational our faith has become weaker. We prefer to first see and then believe. We are unwilling to believe in order that we might see.

The readings of today, however, want to take us beyond the rational, empirical and tangible to the realm of faith, trust and belief. It is through the prophetic word of the prophet Elijah that God gives life to the dead. The God of Elijah is truly the Lord of life, for even one who has already died could be brought to life again by God’s power. However, as is evident in the Gospel text of today, Jesus is greater than Elijah and is the bringer of new life. Unlike Elijah who has to appeal to God to raise the dead boy to life, Jesus himself commands the dead boy to rise and gives him back to his widowed mother.

Even as we read and reflect on these miracles, a number of questions come to mind. Does God intervene in the normal running of the universe? Is God partial when God grants favours to some and not others? Why does God not intervene and right all wrongs and bring about justice and peace in our world?

God can and does intervene at different times. Instances of these interventions are seen in the first reading and Gospel text of today. However, God does not intervene every time we have problems or challenges, just as a loving parent does not intervene every time the child falls and hurts itself or takes a path that will lead to suffering. This is because God respects human freedom too much to constantly interfere. God wants us to grow and learn from our own mistakes. God does not intervene and right all wrongs because that would mean imposing God’s will on humans and forcing them to accept it. Yet, we sometimes get angry with God for not intervening when we are faced with challenges, when a loved one dies of sickness or when marital and family disputes arise. We tend to lose faith at these times and even rebel against God.

Paul tried to rebel against God as is made abundantly clear in the second reading of today. However, even as rebelled, he was being transformed and converted. He was being renewed. This renewal led to his preaching the good news of God.  The Good news is this that God is a God of mercy, compassion and life. The God revealed in Jesus wants that all have the gift of abundant life, life in all its fullness.

The message of the readings then is that no matter how bleak a situation might seem, no matter how difficult an obstacle might appear and no matter how depressing the present is, God is still very much with us. When Jesus was in Gethsemane, he could not see the face of God as clearly as he would have liked and could not hear the voice of God as audibly as he would have liked. Yet, he continued to have faith and knew in his heart that whatever was to happen would be for the best. He trusted in God and carried his cross with courage, strength and hope. His faith was rewarded and he was indeed raised to life, never to die again.

Thus, when we are faced with challenging situations, when we are faced with death like situations, the call is to dare to believe that God will see us through. The God who raised the Sidonian woman’s son through Elijah, and raised the son of the widow of Nain in Jesus and the God who raised Jesus from the dead will walk with us every step of the way. We need even in this modern day and age to believe first in order to see.

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