Reflection: Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – 1Kngs17:17-24; Ps.29; 2nd Reading – Gal.1:11-19; Gospel – Lk.7:11-17]

The gospel today starts by telling us about two different groups of people who, without knowing, were walking towards each other.  The two groups met just outside the gate of the town called Nain.  One of these groups, headed by Jesus, was going towards the entrance of the town.  The other group, headed by “a dead man” being carried out for burial, was already out of the town, heading for the burial place.

The gospel writer does not give us a lot of information about the dead man, but we are told that he was the only son of a widow.  This must have touched Jesus’ so much that, we are told, Jesus felt sorry for the widow and he pleaded her not to cry.  Without waiting for any reaction from the widow, we are told that Jesus went up and put his hand on the bier … and the bearers stood still.  Jesus spoke to the dead man and ordered him to get up, and the dead man obeyed and sat up and began to talk …  Although this man was an adult, Jesus gave him to his mother, who in turn could begin to understand why Jesus told her not to cry!  We are then told that everyone [which means the considerable large number of the townspeople with the mother and the dead man and also those who were with Jesus] was filled with awe and praised God with a title that accompanied Jesus throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.  They said Jesus was ‘a great prophet’ who has appeared amongst them through whom God visited his people.

Now, they could not say that Jesus was God because to them, there was only one God.  But with their own eyes they witnessed someone performing things that only God can do: the help to the widow… and especially the giving of life back to a dead person, as is also clearly portrayed in today’s first reading!!!

Across the four gospels, there are only few instances where Jesus raised someone back from the dead and today’s gospel is one of them.  Yet it still has a message for us who are listening.  Perhaps if we can sympathise with the widow mother, she had not just lost her only son (and therefore she had nothing else who would work for her and defend her) but her life has lost every possible meaning for her.  God’s affection for the widows and for those who are in need is so great that he was also quite often called ‘The Defender of widows and orphans’.  This same sympathy can be felt when we read about Jesus telling the widow mother not to cry, bearing in mind that she had lost her son and everything else, which in turn, means that she had nothing else to do except to wait for her own death.

We are told that Jesus felt sorry for the widow and there are other instances in the gospels were we are told about Jesus’ sentiments and emotions.  Jesus felt sorry for the widow and he was ready to give her back her dead son, no longer dead, but fully alive again.

Jesus tries to do the same thing with us all the time.  Whenever he sees that we are in need of his help and hears our cry for his help, he will try to console us … and at the same time he will also give us back what we have lost, in a better condition, even if this means that he will do what seems impossible in our eyes because for God nothing is impossible!

“Lord, when you felt sorry for this widow, you asked her not to cry and gave her son back to her, alive.  Give us the opportunity to let you speak to us and give us also the wisdom to see your power amongst us.  Thank you Lord!

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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