Warmer than the warmest sunshine, softer than a sigh, deeper than the deepest ocean, wider than the sky! These lyrics are from a song titled My Love, by Petula Clark in the 1960’s. It sure sounds like she is describing a love that is very strong.
Love is awesome, especially when we love and are loved as God intends.
As people of faith, we are called to experience God’s love; a love that conquers even death and leads us all to Heaven!
On this Sunday when we return to Ordinary Time and green vestments, we hear of two profound instances of love conquering death. These readings remind us that while the greatest love awaits all of us in Heaven, we are called to love and experience love in profound and powerful ways right here, right now.
In our 1st reading when the son of the widow dies, she goes to Elijah and calls out to him. In his compassion and in his love, Elijah, knowing he has no power of his own, calls out to God, he implores God to restore life to the son. And so God raises the boy to life. Those who witnessed the miracle in the Gospel would have been familiar with the story of Elijah. Yet there are real differences in the Gospel. No one approaches Jesus for help, no one calls out to God. Jesus, moved with pity and love approaches the widow and reassures her, then he acts. By His own power as God, Jesus raises the son to life! Love conquers death.
Jesus, and Elijah for that matter, knew that the death of a widow’s only son not only meant grief, but a complete and total lack of status. In the days of Elijah and Jesus, a woman’s status was based on that of her spouse. If the spouse died, her status was determined by a son; a male heir. Here we have two widows and now their sons have died; they are left destitute. Any wealth, any possessions they had are lost; the ability to buy food, to buy anything is gone. Moved with compassion and great love, the life of these sons has been restored.
I tell you, arise! With those words, Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain. Yet today, we are called to hear these words too.
Now Deacon, none of us are dead; why do we need to hear these same words? Brothers and sisters, we too need to rise from our sleep. Jesus, in the most powerful love, the love that gets us all the way to Heaven, tells us to wake up from our own sinfulness. Jesus asks us to be fully restored to our mother, the Church. You see even for us, pew sitting Catholics who actually attend Mass, Jesus calls us to a full and complete surrender to His great love. For many of us, we may dismiss certain teachings of the Church. We decide for ourselves what is right and wrong and what sin is and what sin is not. We know in our day and culture that our mother, the Church, is under attack. Do we love her so that in all charity, we staunchly defend her and support her teachings?
Love, the love that gets us to Heaven, calls us to defend Holy Mother Church and to put in to practice all that she holds true and teaches. Love, the love that gets us to Heaven, calls us to live radically the example of Jesus Christ. Love, the love that gets us to Heaven, calls us to help our family and friends to live the teachings of Jesus too! All too often, wanting to go along to get along, to have a happy, slappy family get together, we fail to love our family, our friends and our neighbors in ways that will help them journey to Heaven.
Arise, wake up! Do not persist in the death of our own sinfulness, no, rather, live love fully by loving as Jesus loves, a love that can conquer death because it can conquer our sinfulness. What joy, what hope exists in that type of love? Love that is truly warmer than sunshine, deeper than the deepest ocean, wider than the sky; love that is stronger than death! Love that restores life and leads us all the way to Heaven!
I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me!