Homily for the 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C)

 

My mother and I lived with her parents while I was growing up. My mother and grandmother were both very strong women and although similar in so many ways, polar opposites when it came to showing compassion. My mother had been hurt many times. An unwed mother, who finally married a man because everyone told her she needed a husband and I needed a father. Thankfully that ended after 6 months, but not before she was abused.

My grandmother, equally, had many things happen that shaped her life, one being a tubal pregnancy in 1952 which left her not able to have any more children.

I say they were very much alike because they both loved with their whole heart. They were very much different because my mother wasn’t able to show love to just anyone, it took time and patience to get inside the wall she had built around herself. While my grandmother showed compassion and love to everyone.  No one was unwelcome in our home, there was always plenty of food at meal time, and yes, even though they may be hand me downs, there were spare clothes if anyone needed them.

In both our first reading and in the Gospel today we hear about the only son of a widow that dies. And we see and hear the anguish of their broken hearts.  We have discussed in the past that widows with no sons really had no standing in the community.  They were at the mercy of the townspeople. They for the most part couldn’t own property and what little they had they got from begging.

God showed mercy to the widow Elijah was staying with and when he prayed literally prostrate over the body, God revived the boy, and Elijah was able to give him back to his mother.

Jesus showed mercy and revived the widow’s son and gave him back to his mother.

 

We hear the word mercy quite often and we tend to use it freely. But what does it mean?

 

The dictionary definition of mercy says:

1.    Compassion or forbearance shown to an offender or one who is subject to you.

2.    A blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion

3.    Compassionate treatment of those in distress.

Each of us has received mercy from the hand of God by the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. I know we are able to name many other times in our lives where we have freely received mercy, again from God and from someone in our lives. 

We are blessed to have the Sacraments. Baptism, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, the Eucharist, these are all rivers of mercy, love and compassion.  Each time we celebrate the Eucharist we are giving thanks to God for that compassionate treatment in our distress, and to praise him for that undeserved mercy. We come to the table in our need, and we leave filled.

But we are not to stop there. That is not the end of it for us.  We are called, each of us, you, to take what we have been given and to give it away freely to everyone in need.  We come to the table in thanksgiving, are filled, and then sent out so we can distribute that mercy to others. To our bosses, our students, our employees, our workmates, our friends, our families, our neighbors, the strangers on the street.

 

St. Augustine said in his commentary of Psalm 58 of the Latin Vulgate:

“Lastly, considering that every type of good thing we may possess — either as gifts of nature, or through education or social relationships, or through the gifts of faith, hope, and charity, or moral goods such as justice, or fear of God — are nothing but [God's] gifts, [the Psalmist] concludes thus: "My God is my mercy."... Now, since none is better than You, none more powerful than You, and none is more generous in mercy than You from whom I received that I exist, from You I received [the grace] that I [can] be good.”

 

Who in your life needs mercy?