I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me!
The raising of the widows’ sons by Elijah and Jesus that we just heard are true stories that illustrate God’s good news. Good news that God is merciful and compassionate! Good news that God comes to live, to suffer, and to die with us and for us! Good news that God raises us up to new life!
But for those who have experienced the death of a husband or wife, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a best friend,…this good news is sometimes difficult to hear. During times of loss we might be prone not to listen to God, but to ask Him questions such as: Why have you taken my loved one away from me? Why have you abandoned me in my time of despair? How can I go on with my life? Questioning God can be good…but we must be patient and listen for His response.
Let’s take a deeper look at the question, “How can I go on with my life after such a loss?” While the loss we’re speaking about is death, it can be any loss…a job, an opportunity, a friendship. The best way I know how to talk about this is through my own experience.
In September it will be 30 years since the death of my sister and her two children. I was starting my second year in graduate school with aspirations of a careen in academics. But the death of my sister and nephews turned my life upside down. I was overcome with feelings of despair, anger and confusion.
During that time of grief I prayed the following words or something similar…”God, how will I ever get through this? How can I go on with my life? God, you have to help me!” As I prayed, a calming presence came over me with an assurance that God was right there with me and would help me. What I needed to do was to trust in God. Well, trusting in God wasn’t always easy and I struggled…and I still struggle at times.
But by the grace of God I was able to go on with my life. I completed my graduate studies, I got married and raised a family, I go a good job, and one year ago I was ordained a Permanent Deacon. God has shown me mercy and compassion! Go came to me when I was in great need and has remained with me! Most of all, God has raised me up to new life!
You see, the loss of my sister and nephews made me pause, re-evaluate, and change many aspects of my life. First, realizing that without God I would have never been able to overcome such a loss, my spiritual life blossomed. Second, recognizing that a life in academics would likely make too many demands on family life, I opted for a different career. Finally, I learned that no matter what a particular situation looks like, there is always another side to the story and hence, I must strive to be less judgmental. The point of despair, anger, and confusion God can and does raise us up to new life!
God’s good news for the two widows and their sons applies to all of our lives. God is always pouring out his mercy and compassion upon us! God is always at our side, no matter how distant He may seem! God is always seeking to raise us up to new life! As we now move from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, let us join together in Thanksgiving with the psalmist, “I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me.”