"For we are like olives, only when we are crushed do we yield what is best in
we reach heaven, we are never free from hard times. All kinds of
tragedy can befall us, and the greatest tragedies are physical death
and mortal sin, spiritual death. Yet in both of these, we see God is stronger than death.
- excerpt from The Talmud
The widow of Zarephath and the widow in today's Gospel present us today with the tragedy of physical death. Death is never easy. Death is an evil we must suffer, just as we suffer pain. Evil is an absence of a good that should be present. (All sin is a lack of love and of truth). We can't understand death, nor any evil, because it is inherently against reason.
However, God can create something from nothing – from the shapeless void he made the entire universe. While science can explain the universe, for example the Big Bang, it cannot explain beyond the universe, like where the Big Bang, so to speak, got it's dynamite and fuse. God can create from absolutely nothing. Where there is any evil, any absence of good, such as death, God can bring good through it by his creative power. Thus euthenasia – falsely described as “mercy killing” - is never acceptable because is deprives us of the most foundational gift that God has given us: Life. It is also despair: giving up, rejecting the cross' power to save us.
Saint Paul today presents us with the horror of spiritual death. “ I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” The shame that Paul carries for being so tragically wrong about Jesus is only healed by his trust in God's merciful forgiveness. His sins hurt both him and many others, but the Lord God has healed him (and many others) through his creative power. This is why Paul works so tirelessly for the Gospel: to make up for his failings and to share his joy with all.
When Jesus looked upon the funeral procession in today's Gospel and was moved with a gut-wrenching compassion, I can't help but think that he must have thought of his own mother. Mary also would be a widow losing her only Son, seemingly without anyone left in the world to provide for and protect her. No one knows the evil of death and the horror of sin more perfectly than she, just as no one knows the darkness of a cave except those who live under the full radiance of daylight.
Our Lord's miracle and the miracle of the prophet Elijah both reflect the glory of the resurrection and foretell it. It shows us that in God, the Cross transcends time, even in reverse, but also into the future, into our own time and place.
“God has visited His People.” This is the same thing we proclaim when remembering the gift of the Eucharist.
Here our Lord Jesus come to us in our tragedies, bringing the pain of the cross but also the victory of the Resurrection. If we are faithful and seek the Lord's healing, than God who created something from nothing can bring the good of His Love into the darkness of our pain and tragedy. May we have the faith to let our Lord touch us, and may the Blessed Mother encourage us in that faith.