Sunday, June 05, 2016

Sunday word, 05 Jun 16

Restoring Life to the Living
Tenth Sunday of the Year B (05 Jun 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Summer beckons. It frees us for many activities and lengthens daylight to enjoy them. More light, warmth, cleansing rains, refreshing swims, cookouts and road-trip vacations boost our zest.

A summer cold changes that. Sunlight brings tears to our eyes; aromas—indoor and out—vanish; warmth doesn’t ease aches; the thought of activity exhausts us. Neither work nor play satisfies us. Everything feels off. That plodding drudgery feels endless.

Rehearsing the felt symptoms of a summer cold may seem an odd way into God’s word. Yet it offers access to some common feelings: being unable to breathe in open air; unable to hear music in birdsong and human laughter; unable to be intoxicated by aromas wafting around us; unable to taste fresh food or relish deep, interior delicacies; unable to see clearly because our eyes tear; unable to think because our heads pound and our ears ring.

Recalling the feelings summer colds inflict on us begins—just begins—to let us suffer with those for whom loss and tragedy extinguish their zest and dull physical senses and spiritual ones. Recalling those feelings helps us begin to feel compassion for the bible widows scripture has put before us.

The world into which Jesus was born was a man’s world. Woman did not lack power; they exercised it in their realms—realms defined by the male-centred culture. Cultures everywhere are the structures, systems and symbols of societies. The culture into which Jesus was born, lived and died long before established values by which everyone was expected to live.

Jesus’ culture valued what was old and venerable; it suspected novel things and ways. It valued large families, and people worried about what and who might bring shame to them. Single women did not help unite families. When single daughters were taken advantage of not only was a family shamed, the future prospect of the daughter’s marriage was bleak at best.

Jesus’ culture placed married and single women in the care of the men who headed their families. When women were widowed sons cared for them and were their link to the world. Widows were bereft of the men that linked them to world. They could look forward to their sons growing up and securing life for them. Widows who buried their only sons had also died. Their lost dear ones as well as their lost futures left them unable to breathe in open air; unable to hear music in birdsong and human laughter; unable to be intoxicated by aromas wafting around them; unable to taste food or meaning they once had; unable to see clearly because their eyes teared, their souls wept; and their thoughts were desolate.

Elijah knew the calamity of a dead son included more than his mother’s loss of him. His death sapped her life of protection and meaning. Through Elijah God demonstrated power over death and more: God’s compassion for her. She, too, was restored to life. Not only did Jesus fulfill an earlier prophet’s vocation; Jesus embodied God’s compassion: his inmost self was wrenched at the widow’s plight and he acted on it! Jesus modelled for us to feel deeply for each person and let ourselves be moved to act mercifully—with his mercy.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Become aware of the Divine Persons creating you in love.
  • Ask the widows of scripture to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you; thank him for restoring your life’s meaning even though you felt it was extinguished forever.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to act on your emerging new meaning for others.
  • Close by saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. It summarizes Jesus’ compassion and guides us to practice his compassion today.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Wiki-image: Jesus raising the widow’s son PD-US Hibiscus by PDP

No comments: