Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is the continuation of the story from the Old Testament reading last Sunday (1 Kings 17: 8-16). There had been a drought in the land of Israel for years, so few crops had been harvested and clean water was also in short supply. During this crisis, the Lord sent the prophet Elijah to live with a widow in Sarepta of Sidon. The Lord had said to Elijah: "Behold, I have sent there a widowed woman to sustain you." However, the widow had doubts as to whether there was enough for her, her son and Elijah. But no matter what their doubts were, the Lord regarded their obedience as evidence of faith, even though it was a weak faith, and provided for them.
"And the jar of flour did not run out, nor did the jar of oil dwindle, according to the word of the Lord that he had spoken through Elijah."
But that was not the end of the widow's misfortune. “After these things it happened that the son of the housekeeper fell ill, and the illness was so serious that no breath remained in her. And she said to Elijah: What have I to do with you, man of God? Have you come to me to remember my iniquities, and to put my son to death? "
God showed his mercy to the widow in this way: “And he said to her: Give me your son here. So he took him off his lap, and brought him into the chamber where he was, and laid him on his bed. And crying out to Jehovah, he said, Jehovah my God, have you even afflicted the widow in whose house I am staying, causing her son to die? And she stretched herself out on the child three times, and cried out to Jehovah, and said, Jehovah my God, I pray that the soul of this child return to her. "
As believers, we have the promise of eternal life in Christ and so do our loved ones who also believe. This earthly life is not the end of things for us and we will see again those who have passed from this life. However, it is natural for us to mourn the loss of a loved one, because we will never see him again on this side of physical death and what is beyond what we accept by faith. Faith that does not spring from ourselves, but is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Nor is it bad to cry out to God for justice when life doesn't seem fair.
“And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child returned to him, and he revived. Then Elijah took the child, brought him from the chamber to the house, and gave him to his mother, and Elijah said: Look, your son lives. Then the woman said to Elijah: Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord is true in your mouth. "
To be merciful is an attribute of almighty God the Father, also his Son, Jesus Christ. In our gospel today (Luke 7: 11-16), we find another widow who had lost her only son. "And it happened that the next day, he was going to the city called Nain, and many of his disciples were going with him, and a large crowd. And when he came near the city gate, behold, they took a dead man to bury , the only son of his mother, who was also a widow; and there were many people from the city with her. "
At that time as in the time of Elijah, it was the custom to entrust the care of his mother to the firstborn. In this case also the deceased was an only child and his mother was a widow. Like the widow of Sarepta, this woman had two misfortunes on her back. First, she is a widow; that is unfortunate enough for a woman who is desolate and alone, she has no one from whom to expect consolation. Second, she had lost her firstborn son.
“And when the Lord saw her, he took pity on her, and said to her: Don't cry. And she came and touched the coffin; and those who carried it, stopped. And she said: Young man, I say to you: Get up. Then the one who had died sat up and began to speak. And she gave it to her mother. "
Let's consider one more widow and her firstborn son. At least we believe that the Virgin Mary was a widow when Jesus died on the cross. Joseph the carpenter does not appear as a living man during the account of Jesus' public ministry. And with some of his last words, Jesus entrusted his mother to the beloved disciple, John. When Jesus saw his mother and the apostle John at the foot of the cross, he said to his mother: "Woman, there is your son" and to John, "there you have your mother." And from that hour the disciple received her in his home (John 19: 26-27).
This time the son was returned to his mother, not for a few more years of earthly life, but forever. The difference between the resurrection of Jesus and other resurrected ones in the biblical accounts is that Jesus conquered death for all of us. In his death, we can all hope to live forever with him and our loved ones.
It is not a sin to mourn the death of loved ones, or to ask God why we had to part with them for a while. But there, through baptism, hope and peace that passes all understanding live in us. Amen.
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