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06/05/16 Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

The lesson of this encounter between Jesus and the widow of Nain is so simple that we may miss it: God cares. “Do not cry,” Jesus tells her, as if to say, “I can’t bear to see you suffer like this. Let me help.” This woman had lost her husband, now she has lost her only son – she is alone, suffering without hope. And then she meets Jesus, and he simply can’t let her suffer alone, and so he performs a miracle. No one asked him to perform this miracle; he took the initiative to intervene. The Christian God is not a God who remains aloof: he does not keep his distance; he cares too much about us, in spite of our sinfulness, weakness, and brokenness. This is the message of every page of the Gospels, from Christmas to CalvaryGod cares; he has compassion on us; he suffers with us, giving meaning to our pain.

Sometimes we feel like we are suffering alone, as if God doesn’t care.

Sometimes Christ seems far away, because he doesn’t give us the miracle we long for.

But we can’t let those feelings deceive us. This widow did not know about Calvary. She had never seen a crucifix. The only way Christ had to show her his compassion was through a miracle. But we have seen Calvary. We know to what depths God’s compassion has gone. And we can always go to the Tabernacle, where we find the Eucharist, the living memorial of Calvary – the revelation of God’s unfathomable compassion, his “suffering with” (that’s what the world “compassion”: means) each and every one of us.

Truly, we never have to suffer alone.

And so, when we choose to do so anyway, we not only increase our own pain, but we double Christ’s as well, by turning a blind eye to his cross.

This is one of the most important things to remember as we strive to follow Christ's moral teaching. In a world that no longer encourages us to believe in God and trust in his wisdom, following Christ's teaching about honesty, marriage, and forgiveness, for example, often strains us to the breaking point. And we will break - if we try to do it alone. But we are not supposed to try to do it alone. Jesus wants to be with us, to be our strength and support. He knows that moral integrity is a necessary ingredient for true happiness, but he also knows that in this fallen world, we need his help to resist temptations and grow in virtue. If we understand that, then we find courage and hope for ourselves and for others. But if we don't, we will give in to frustration and anger.

God loves us too much to let us suffer alone.

We should be grateful for that – immensely, immeasurably grateful.

But we should also remember that for Christ's faithful friends, all suffering is temporary. If we die in friendship with God, we will go to heaven, to the Father's house, and in that house there is no more suffering. Here in this fallen world Jesus is strong and wise enough  to comfort us in our sorrows and to bring meaning and spiritual growth out of apparently   absurd evils and sufferings – if we let him. But when this earthly journey is over, we who are God's faithful children will leave suffering behind – forever. We will hear Jesus say to us exactly what he said to the widow: "Do not weep." Do not weep ever again! There is no more room for sadness and tears of loss! All is well; all has been repaired! This is no pipe dream, no wishful thinking, no self-delusion. Heaven is real; God himself revealed it to us; it is Catholic dogma.  And God revealed it to us precisely because he wants us to think about it frequently, to look forward to it, to derive energy and motivation from it. That's what the Christian virtue of hope is all about.

Today, as God reminds us of his omnipotence and his compassion, as we behold this amazing miracle worked by our Lord Jesus Christ, we should ask ourselves: when was the last time I thought about heaven?

When was the last time I smiled at the thought that Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for me in his Father's mansion, a room there with my name on the door?

During this Mass, and throughout this coming week, let's give Jesus the pleasure of taking his promise seriously, by stirring up our hope for the perfect happiness he is leading us towards.

 

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