“Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” from the Gospel of St. Luke.
Last week we heard about how Jesus healed the servant of the centurion. This week we heard about a mother whose son who had died. This passage is remarkably like the reading from 1st Kings, isn’t is? Let’s look at the similarities.
In both stories there is a mother whose son had died. These women are very important to God. First, let me say that women tend to be more in touch with the spiritual than we men are. Mother’s have participated in the greatest miracle of all, conception and birth of children. This is something we men can only observe. We will never experience the pain of childbirth, which is quickly forgotten when mother and child are reunited. Mother’s have a special place in the life of God.
In each story there is a death. For a mother, there is no greater grief than the loss of a child. In my experience, mothers seem to live on the edge between joy and fear. God knows the hearts of mothers.
In each story there is a prophet. A prophet is one who speaks the word of God into the lives of his people. A prophet calls on the Holy Spirit to make signs and wonders to show the depth of God’s love. In the first reading the prophet is Elijah, one of the greatest chosen by God to speak for him. In the Gospel reading, the prophet is Jesus, the last one chooses to speak for God. Both of these prophets shared the love of God. Notice if you will how Elijah stretched himself over the child three times. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty. Elijah shares his life force with the child, sharing what God has given him. Elijah cried out to God, “O LORD my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” The Lord heard Elijah.
Jesus, acting as the Lord’s prophet, had compassion on the mother and son. What did he say to God to ask him to heal the woman’s son? Nothing. He did not have to because why? Jesus is God! “I and the Father are one,” he said as recorded by St. John, 10:30. He simply said to the boy, “Young man, I say to you, rise.” The dead man sat up and began to speak! Imagine the shock and awe! Then what happened? Jesus gave the boy to his mother. In completion of this act of compassion, Jesus restores the mother’s son to her.
In these stories we can see that life is important to God. He created it, he restores it. Life is not ours to do with what we will. We owe our lives to God. We were once dead in our sins, and now we live a life to God.
This sinful world places little value on life. Lives are destroyed every day by people, good and bad. Just last weekend in Chicago, 63 were wounded, and 6 were killed in shootout between gang members, and those shot were innocent bystanders.
You can see from these readings that life is important to God. A statement on the Sanctity of Life was put into the founding canons of the Anglican Church in North America. It reads, “We believe God, and not man, is the creator of human life. Therefore, from conception to natural death we will protect and respect the sanctity of every human life. Furthermore, we recognize that the unjustified taking of life is sinful, but God gives absolution to those who ask for His forgiveness.”
Notice the last line. “God gives absolution to those who ask for His forgiveness.” That statement is at the heart of the Gospel. God forgives sinners, because he loves their lives, too. God wants us to live because we are his beloved children, and we want to be his servants out of gratitude for what he has done for us. He knows that we will sin, but by faith we will be saved through grace to live eternal life with him in heaven.