Sunday, June 9, 2013

Giving Widowed Mothers Back Their Sons

In Year C on the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time both the 1st Reading from the first Book of Kings and the Gospel passage from Luke chapter 7 give accounts of God restoring dead sons alive to their widowed mothers. While such are not events one can hide under a bushel basket, the overall impact of this great wonder must always take a back seat to what were first and foremost in both instances demonstrations of God's boundless compassion toward these two women very much alone in their sorrow. Giving back the breath of life to their sons was intended firstly to free these women of their anguish. There is no evident further agenda behind God's choice to restore life; here we experience only immediate and boundless love at work.

In neither case would it seem that the women tempted fate by demanding the miracle of life restored to their dead sons; in both cases we see their tears and their pain before God. God's superabundant compassion is at work here. I think it more than fair to say that is the way things work in God's world. I think the only question we as baptized believers need ask ourselves this Sunday is whether our world is God's world. We need but ask, examine our consciences to see if we are living our days in the company of the Lord and Giver of Life. What else could possibly matter?

In German there is an expression "Volkskirche", which describes a popular religiosity centered on the village church or neighborhood parish; it connotes for us Catholics a straightforward practice of the sacraments: Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days, frequent Confession as a preparation for the devout and worthy reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord in Holy Communion, prayer at home and virtuous living consonant with our state in life. Lots of people dismiss the possibility of ever seeing a general revival of "Volkskirche", of what was a positive and supportive environment in which people could happily believe and be Catholic. I'm sorry, but I cannot accept that thesis. They describe a mustard seed type of witness for us without the rapid growth into a big bush or tree offering shelter to every sort of little bird. How can that be? Is not life in the catacombs but a passing trial, a step on the path to a fuller witness to the Gospel?  What else or what more or what better could we strive for in this Year of Faith? Are we not meant to be the city on the mountain top?

I think that "Volkskirche" expresses the ambience within the life of the Church which best reflects the Scriptural world in which the widows could shed their tears in their loneliness before God. How Christ moves to comfort and console is His sovereign choice, we must only not leave the flock untended.


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