June 3, 2016

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe first reading comes from the First Book of Kings. This book, and its companion, 2 Kings, are Old Testament writings about the kings of Israel. The kings certainly are mentioned, but these books are not political histories. In a way, the kings are not the principal figures.

The books are religious texts with prophets taking a prominent role in them. The prophets made God’s presence and teachings better known to the Hebrew people.

In this weekend’s reading, Elijah the prophet visits a home. He meets a woman, the mistress of the house, whose son has been very sick and now has stopped breathing. The mother is desperate. Elijah prays over the young man, and the young man recovers. He lives.

This miracle confirms that Elijah indeed is a man of God, who speaks God’s word.

The second reading is from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. The Galatians lived in the area now in Turkey. They were converts from paganism. They were not Jews. As time passed, however, Christians of Jewish origins arrived, and they demanded that the Galatians follow the rituals and practices of Judaism.

Paul writes to establish that once he was second to no one in the most intense Jewish fervor. Since being called by Christ, however, he preaches a Gospel that is the Lord’s gift to everyone, irrespective of nationality or ethnicity.

For the Gospel reading this weekend, the Church presents the familiar story of Jesus at Nain from St. Luke’s Gospel. There he encountered a grieving widow whose only son had died. The scene was immediately set, a scene hardly beyond our ability in this era to see.

Given the customs of the day, the woman had good cause for grief and anxiety, not simply because of the usual sense of loss at the passing of a beloved child. She was a widow. The dead man was her only son. With his death, she lost all security.

Understandably, the reading states that Jesus was “moved with pity for her” (Lk 7:13). As the story unfolded, Jesus touched the corpse. This hardly would bother people alive today. In the time of Jesus, however, such a gesture defied Jewish laws of purity.

The event revealed basic facts about Jesus. All the ritual laws, such as touching the dead, were open to the Lord’s amendment or interpretation. These laws came not from a prophet, such as Moses, but from God. Jesus is God. He has control over the law.

Secondly, the outreach of Jesus to the grieving woman, without any appeal from her, illustrated the overwhelming love of God for us, especially in our need.


Sustaining life and even restoring life after death are the strong features of the readings from First Kings and from Luke. More than anything else, death represents the ultimate helplessness of mortals. No human being escapes death in the long run. Death is so final, as many who grieve after a loss will be quick to say.

In First Kings and in Luke, God comes as the supreme authority over death. In the first reading, God restores life through the ministry of the prophet Elijah. God himself in Jesus restores life in the Gospel reading from Luke.

It is a study in the power of God. It is awesome to behold. Consolingly, these readings reveal the love of God for humans, for us. In each instance, a grieving mother is in the story. In ancient times, women were very vulnerable. Secondly, for mothers, the pain of losing a child always is acute.

With great love, God restores these sons to life. God extended divine love to these women visibly and tangibly, giving earthly life. He gives eternal life to all who love him. †

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