Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The two readings of today have an uncanny similarity. In the first Elijah is blamed for a woman’s son’s death, and then laments to God which results in the sons return to life. In the second Jesus and his entourage cross paths with a funeral procession. Jesus takes pity on the dead sons mother, and brings her son back to life. In Elijah’s story the woman says to him; “Why have you done this to me, O man of God?. Elijah cries to God:“O LORD, my God,will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?”. Elijah then prays; “O LORD, my God,let the life breath return to the body of this child.” The son then returns to life and the woman proclaims that Elijah is indeed a man of God. The moral of this story being that God and his prophets bring life and not death.
Jesus encounter with the funeral procession mirrors this statement. Jesus brings the dead son back to life and his mission is indeed of God. It is a proclamation about who Jesus is. It also is interesting how Jesus goes about this mission. When Jesus encounters this procession, his entourage and that of the funeral procession are moving in different directions. When Jesus comes upon these people, he could have filed behind the procession and participated in a solemn burial ritual. Jesus did not do this, instead he stopped the procession and then changed its outcome. Might that be a hint to his approach in his gospel? His preaching does not follow the direction of his predecessors but instead moves in a new direction to restore a peoples relationship to God. As he brought the son back, he also brings his followers back to life with their relationship to God.
Both these stories do have that one point in common. They share the fact that God is a God of life, and if God is a God of Life; his prophets also should be bringers of life back to the people that they serve. In fact all who are followers of this God of the Israelite’s carry this message of a God of the living. While many can preach about God, it is only God that can breathe life into a person. Elijah knew this as he prayed to God to restore the boys life and the mother in Jesus’s story recognized who Jesus was when her son rose from the dead.
The theological points in both stories are easy to spot and likely are the source of many discussions among theologians, but there also are many lessons that can be gleaned from these two accounts. They define who God is, an who man is. They also strongly connect God with life. They illustrate that Gods prophets, if true prophets, should be promoters of life and not agents of death in their messages and actions. For those who simply try to discern the truth among public speakers, be they preachers or promoters or politicians or singers or scientists: those who follow God bring a message of life, while those who do not promote a message of decay.Its a simple message to remember when listening to eloquent and persuasive people tying to guide your path. Do you follow them to the grave, or do you Arise?