CHRIST'S COMPASSION AND HEALING LOVE
Raising to life the widow's son
10th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
As I reflect on our readings this Sunday, the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, I was reminded of a very interesting story, which brought about the composition of a popular hit song, “Tears in Heaven” which is now a classic. Who composed and sang this song? Yes, Eric Clapton, the Grammy Award winning English guitarist, singer and composer. Clapton is one of the most influential musicians of the rock era. He has been honored an unprecedented three times by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here’s the story behind the music:
On a warm spring day in March of 1991 Eric Clapton received a phone call from his wife, Lori. In a frantic voice she told him that their four and a half year old son, Connor, had just accidentally fallen to his death after crawling out of an open window of their 53rd floor Manhattan apartment. Clapton could not believe what he was hearing and rushed over the ten blocks to find paramedic equipment everywhere, and ambulances, and police cars. Only then did he begin to realize with a sinking heart, “Oh my God, it is true.” Out of his suffering, Clapton turned to his music and wrote “Tears in Heaven” a very personal song to express his grief ... his struggle to live with the loss of his son ... his yearning to know peace in his life again. Its lyrics speak of Clapton’s search for the healing of his shattered heart. These are the words he wrote to his son:
“Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?
Would you hold my hand, if I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong to carry on,
’cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven.”
The last words of the song are these:
“Beyond the door, there’s peace for sure,
and I know, there’ll be no more tears in heaven.”
The thought of these lyrics could sum up our Sunday reflection. Things could get rough and tough, but the hope for God’s promise of heaven could simply wipe those tears away. Three important points for you this Sunday:
1. We SHOULD become channels of God’s compassion and healing love. Compassion, a combination of two Latin words, “Cum = with” and “passio = suffer” or simply put, “to suffer with.” Such is what Jesus did in the Gospel. He “suffers with” the widow’s unfortunate situation as she lost her son. He tells her, “Do not weep!” In other words, “Do not be afraid!” He asks her to remain steadfast in her faith for through it, she will be able to overcome her distress. Jesus says the same assurance to each and every one of us today to not be afraid. More importantly, he asks us to be instruments of such compassion and unwavering faith. Compassion can do more than you may think, especially if it's straight from the heart of Jesus. Today’s gospel story describes how Jesus transforms the despair and sorrow of a widow by raising her only son back to life. As opposed to being bitter at the most difficult times in our lives, Jesus calls us to follow His example and truly become a channel of compassion and healing love. Jesus comforted the widow in the Gospel, let us do the same by comforting others.
2. We HAVE to be ALIVE SPIRITUALLY. We have to understand that are made of both body and spirit. At times, we give too much emphasis on our physical needs but seem to neglect our spiritual needs. In my ministry as priest for four years now, I have people come up to me to help them address their struggle with mortal sins. But, like I always tell them, the best way to address our spiritual struggles is through spiritual means … to be ALIVE spiritually. Hear this simple premise, when we live in mortal sin though we may be physically alive, we are spiritually dead. What must we do? We go to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation to revive our dead spirit. Moreso, when we receive Christ in the Eucharist it is more like nourishing our souls to become strong enough to overcome future sins. St. Augustine once said, "Our Mother the Church rejoices every day when people are raised again in spirit sacramentally.”
Three highly decorated police officers die in a wild shoot out with narcotics dealers and go to heaven. God greets them and asks, "When you are laid out in your casket, and your fellow officers and family are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you?" The first cop says, "I would like to hear them say, that I was the bravest cop on the force." The second police officer says, "I would like to hear that I was a terrific cop who died in the line of duty." The last cop replies, "I would like to hear them say ... 'Look, he's moving!"
This would be a very frightening scene to be at. It could give an entirely different meaning to the phrase: “moved by the spirit!”
3. We HAVE to be WILLING TO OFFER our woundedness to Jesus. We need to bring our deepest hurts and broken relationships to Jesus and experience how he reaches out to us and grant us his loving reconciliation. Let us invite Jesus to transform even the most difficult situations in our life. The Lord Jesus still raises the dead. We trust that promise each time we bring our shattered lives, our broken hearts, our anger, our depression, our deepest hurts to the table of the Lord and, in the priest, hear him say: "This is my body; this is my blood given and shed for you!"
It is only through offering of our weaknesses and woundedness that we are able to obtain graces from God. As St. Paul once write, "It is when I am powerless that I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:9-10). There is One who sees and understands and is able to meet my every need. The example is seen in today’s gospel.
One final note: Here’s what I would like you to do as an assignment for all families here present. FOCUS on one point (out of the three points or two), which you think could help you in your Sunday reflection. Break open the WORD (Sunday Readings) with the family; let it SPEAK to you; SHARE the word to each and every member of the family; and let it TOUCH your lives as it has touched the lives of millions of people all over the world.
God bless us all!