Accepting Grace (Jun. 5, 2016)

Sunday’s First Reading and Gospel have a common detail: a widow has lost her only son. This was doubly tragic: not only was there deep grief over the loss of a child, but without a male relative to protect her interests, both widows were destined to live out their days in destitution, without legal rights. There was no safety net in those days.

Now the widow of Zaraphath voices what everyone who experiences a tragedy must feel: “What did I do wrong that caused this death/illness/ disaster? Why is God punishing me?” But really, it’s too easy to blame God. Would you do such things to your son or daughter? No, you wouldn’t. So why would our Father?

The reality is that people do die. Sometimes we are to blame for our own misfortunes. At times Mother Nature is to blame. Mechanical failure causes tragic accidents. Aging has its impact on the human body. And the list goes on. We live in a world of many seasons and beauties, but at the same time we are a broken people living in a broken world.

Some of us, like the two widows, often react to hardships very badly. We focus too much on the hurt, pain and suffering. We worry. We get upset. We vent our anger. We fall apart. We curse ourselves. We blame it on others. We begin to question God. We distrust others. We begin to lose confidence in ourselves, lose faith and hope in God and we become discouraged. Been there, done that, right?

In order to bring about healing, Jesus and Elijah give us a clue to what must be done. Elijah says: “Give me your son” (that is, your pain, suffering, anger). Jesus stops the funeral procession. In other words, give Jesus a chance to work his miracles. We can become so focused on physical or emotional pain and suffering that we miss the help and grace God is trying to give us, particularly through the care and support of others. Jesus and his Father desire life, not death.

Be God’s touch to someone today!

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