Bishop Glen John Provost

Bishop of Lake Charles

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Lake Charles, Louisiana

June 5, 2016

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Young man, I tell you, arise!”  Luke 7:14

Where are we going?  Why do I have to do this?  What is this all about?  These are the questions children ask.  However, when we pause to think for a moment, they are questions adults ask too.  We spend our lives asking questions about motives, objectives, and goals.  In many ways, as children we are merely opening a chapter on our lives that will continue in a book of developments that we cannot foresee or influence, all part of God’s infinitely mysterious plan for us.  But our faith assures us of one certainty.  If we trust and strive to cooperate with God’s will, then we will connect with His good purpose.  As St. Paul writes, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

With this in mind, I turn to the Gospel of today’s Mass, at which we are also honoring couples celebrating wedding anniversaries.  While making His way to the city of Nain, Jesus encountered at the gate of the city a funeral procession.  As we do in our area out of respect even when the deceased is unknown to us, Jesus stopped.  Every funeral is an occasion for sorrow, but this funeral was particularly distressing.  Every devout Jew would have known the law and practices governing widows.   Sons, not daughters, were obliged to care for their widowed mother.  Here the widow had only one son.  Not only had she lost a child, she had lost her support.  For this reason both the Jews and the early Christians spoke of “[r]eligion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:  to care for orphans and widows” (James 1:27).
No doubt those questions of childhood would have filled the mind of the widow of Nain.   Where am I going to go?   Why must this happen to me?  What purpose is left?  

Jesus understood this.   He says to her words that seem incomprehensible.   “Do not weep” (Luke 7:13).   Why should she not weep, except for the fact that standing before her is Life itself.   Jesus, “the way, the truth, and the life,” has told the lady to stop crying.   Then, Jesus does what is even more astounding.  He touches the coffin and says, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” (Luke 7:14).   God’s Word is not merely a word.   God acts through His Word.   And, “The dead man sat up and began to speak” (Luke 7:15).  

What do the witnesses to this marvel say?  How do they respond?    They cried out, “God has visited his people” (Luke 7:16).   “[A]ll things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28), who trust in His ways, who are confident of His mercy.  

Today we thank the men and women who have lived faithfully the marriage vows they took many years ago.   How wonderful it would be to hear each of you describe how “God… visited” you in your marriage!     What wonders have you seen God work in your lives?    When you thought the world was collapsing around you, how did you hear God say, “Do not weep”?    And when did you hear the word “arise”?    For if God can raise up an only son for a widow of Nain, then He can indeed do anything.   And He has in you.    This materialistic and selfish world has great need of your witness.  God be praised for having brought you to this moment in your lives.    May we learn the significance of trusting in God’s will.