Elijah said to her, “Give me your son.” Taking him from her lap, he carried the son to the upper room where he was staying, and put him on his bed. Elijah called out to the NAME: “O NAME, my God, will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself out upon the child three times and called out to the NAME: “O NAME, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.” The NAME heard the prayer of Elijah; the life breath returned to the child’s body and he revived. Gospel Reading for Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Luke 4:25-26
After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. Luke 4:38-39
There are only two passages in our Bible, which describe a prophet standing over/stretching over the body of one to be healed and doing something, which causes the healing. The first is our first reading from I Kings. The second is Luke 4, which quotes that healing then has Jesus use the same healing for Simon Peter’s mother in law.
Our focus in the Gospel and first readings for today, and for Luke 4 is slightly different.
They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” Luke 4:35-36
Elijah said to her, “See! Your son is alive.” The woman replied to Elijah, “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God. The word of the NAME comes truly from your mouth.” I Kings 17:24
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst, “ and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region. Gospel for the Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Prayer is essential in these readings, but these readings are not about prayer. Mark 9 has the transfiguration/Eucharist. The passage following has some interesting lines. The father of the epileptic says, “It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus replies, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
When Jesus entered the house, his disciples asked him, “Why could we not drive it out?” Jesus told them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” There is only one prayer in the entire passage, and it is not for healing. It is for faith, a faith which brings healing into our world. What is essential to our first reading and Gospel for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is not prayer, but the healing coming from prayer.
Luke 4 is Luke’s theses statement for his entire Gospel. Listen to what he says about how people will know he is Messiah. It does not focus upon prayer and meditation. It does not mention military prowess. Listen to what it does focus upon:
Jesus taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on Sabbath. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
“The Breathe of the NAME is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the NAME.” The Holy Spirit comes from our divine Dance with God, and that includes prayer.
The crowds do not believe Jesus is Messiah because they see him praying. They believe he is the Messiah, because he brings tidings of glad news, not to the established middle-class people of his day, but to the poor.
He proclaims liberty to captives. He does not create a nation, which has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prison population, as does the US. He creates a nation, which promotes Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, for all people. He gives sight to the blind; he heals people. He brings freedom to the oppressed. One report shows that in our nation, bullied employees who did nothing about the bullying only had a 3.25% success rate in stopping it. Employees who confronted their co-workers had a 3.57% success rate. Bullied employees who asked their bosses to intervene with the bullying had a 3.26% success rate. Bullied employees who sought help from senior managers had a 3.69% rate. Employees who sought help from their unions had an 8.84% success rate. Employees who filed formal complaints to the human resources had a 4.7% success rate.
Some misguided souls believe government should get out of the business of guiding our nation to be like Christ. Those who filed complaints to a federal agency or external state agency had an 11.9% success rate. Bullied employees who filed lawsuits had an 11.2% success rate. If every Catholic came to Mass one Sunday, there would only be seats to sit 47.3142508% of them. We need to show we are up to the job, that we are indeed like Christ, before the rest of the nation gives us the job. Did the target’s co-workers (of any rank—peers or managers) see the mistreatment, at least once? 95% said “Yes.” Were the target’s co-workers aware of the mistreatment? 97% said “Yes.” When 75% of the population show they are up to the job, by doing something, we can allow government to get out of the protection business.
When Jesus sees bullying in school, and in the workplace he stops it. Our passage tells us, people will recognize we are Christians, a word meaning, Like Christ, when we do the same. He proclaims a year acceptable to God. What kind of a year is that? It is a year when our Eucharist has real meaning for our world, Mitte Est/Mass, when all Christians are like Christ, striving to bring Tikkun/healing/Christ to our world.