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THE COMPASSIONATE CHRIST

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

One of the great images of the Church as a body is given by Saint Paul in today's first reading. Just as a body has many parts, so does the Church. The body for its best functioning needs all the parts to interact. As we get older, we realize what happens to our overall health when our hearing becomes less acute, our sight less sharp, our legs less strong, our vitality more diminished. So, in the Church, we need all the parts to function well. Not everyone is a bishop nor a priest. The gifts or parts of the Body of Christ are distributed among the baptised.

The Church needs administrators, pastors, teachers and people adept at prayer. In his catalogue Paul mentions a special gift to which we do not pay much attention - the gift of helping. Some people simply want to have the leading role, to be in the limelight, and otherwise are not interested in participating.

We all have a gift to bring to the Church in spreading the Gospel. We never know which of us God will use to bring people who are spiritually dead back to life, as the Lord raised the young man in today’s Gospel. It is not necessarily through a priest that people are encouraged to return to the Church. We are all called to serve the Lord and His Church as He gives us the gifts and the grace.

In today's Gospel we read that Jesus is both powerful and compassionate. When He saw the funeral procession leaving the town of Naim as a widowed mother was about to bury her only child, Jesus realised that the most difficult time for her was not at this moment but when she must return to an empty house alone.

His compassion went out, not to the boy who had died, but to his mother. It is not far-fetched to imagine that He saw in His mind another widow who in a short time would also be burying her only Son. That woman, of course, was His own mother. It is no wonder that He was moved with pity! The high point of the Gospel occurs, not when Jesus raised the boy to life, but when He gave him back alive to his mother.

The large crowd who witnessed the compassion of Jesus was struck with awe and gave praise to God. These people should be models for us in our worship, especially at Mass because God the Father has given us in His Son a saviour, not only with the power to raise the dead to life, but Who understands our human feelings and needs. He Himself has shared in them. Like the crowd we are called to give praise and thanks to God for the great gift of His Son.

Heavenly Father, may each one of us be filled with the same awe and praise of Your Son today as those in the crowd were 2,000 years ago.

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