Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
[Scripture Readings: 1 Kg 17:17-24; Gal 1:11-19; Lk 7:11-17 ] At Mississippi Abbey
Which person in these stories from Kings and Luke was restored to new life? It is the widowed mother. In the Israel of the times a woman obtained status, security, and worth from her father, brother, or husband. If the husband had passed on, it came from her son. Apart from a male relative, there was no one to care for her. She was, for all practical purposes, dead. Her life had no meaning. When Jesus gave the widow her son, He was restoring the widow to life that was useful, that had meaning. Most all, it was again a life lived “for the sake of.” She did not ask for His help; He initiated it. Why? Because He saw her weeping and the heart of Jesus, the Sacred Heart we celebrated last Friday, “went out to her.”
The widowed mother represents someone who has suffered a serious loss. She represents a broken heart. The heart has two aims: to unite with what it loves and to avoid a break. A broken heart has failed on both counts. The heart is the core of a person and when suffering a loss it becomes simply impossible to take seriously many matters that, up to then, had seemed of such great importance. A broken heart affects perception; it affects how we value things. When we are affected at the core we realize that our whole life is at stake and nothing else really matters. We often do not realize the place a relationship or the regard of others has in our hearts until it is lost. To recognize this measure-of-attachment is to recognize a profound truth about oneself. A broken heart, then, is not something to “get over.” When the heart is broken it is important that we listen to it. It will teach us.
The heart of Jesus goes out to the broken hearted. “Do not weep,” He tells us. It is important to note in this Jubilee Year of Divine Mercy that Jesus’ power to raise the dead by His own word comes from His compassion. The abundance of His heart is given to the poverty of the others heart. “Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted; blessed are the poor for the kingdom of God is yours.” To receive that comforting and the kingdom of God and to treasure it more than what was lost is a miracle. And so “the people glorified God, exclaiming; a great prophet has arisen in our midst, God has visited his people.”
There, in acknowledging the power of God, is the real point of this story. First, the broken-hearted received the love Jesus offered. What frustrates the heart of Jesus is not so much that love is not returned as that it is not received.
Secondly, Jesus desires to show us that the word “God” means a being that deserves to be worshipped. He shows us that what we worship is what we prefer to everything. And one thing worship cannot be is half-hearted. Worship, the way we live for Him, has to be extravagant. That is what the life of Jesus Christ teaches us. It is His own experience of and response to the Father’s love that Jesus wants to share with the widow and the crowd. And they received it. He wants us to have this kind of experience ourselves.
True life is a life lived “for the sake of.” To love God is to spend oneself completely and without reservation or die trying.