Sermon for the 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“A great prophet has appeared among us – God has visited His people.”

Picture and imagine the place of Nain that we read about in today’s Gospel.  It was almost certainly a bustling and busy city and given the heat of the Middle East probably full of noise and dust.  As you watch the scene in the town, you spy a funeral procession in which there is much weeping, mourning and crying amongst the people.  In truth it is an out pouring of misery what we know as miseria.  Bereavement and loss is something which is very real and all of us know what it means, namely to grieve and to mourn.  It takes us to the pit of our existence, the very bottom of our human condition.  It leaves us lost, saddened and broken.  In today’s Gospel Christ hears the sorrow, misery, pain and loss of the widow of Nain.  Not only has she lost her husband, but now she has lost her son.  As he hears that pain, His heart explodes in love.  This is such a wonderful way in which to start this month of June, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Take a moment to look at the beautiful altar on the right hand side at the front of the Church.  See how brilliantly displayed it is and is full of splendour and magnificence.  The Sacred Heart is like a door that unlocks us into the mysteries of God’s love.

As Christ entered the hearts of the people of Nain and in particular the widow, in a similar way He wants and indeed begs to enter into our situation and preoccupations and for His heart to explode in love in our lives.  So why don’t we let Him, not only here in our own lives, but also in the lives of others, the people of Iraq and Syria and indeed the loneliness of so many in our contemporary world, living in the streets around us.

The simple answer is that we will not give Him that which does not belong to Him.  Everything that we perceive and see belongs to Him, except that which is our own possession, namely our own sin.  There is something in the human condition that does not want to unburden itself to Christ and to His Scared Heart.  One of the great misunderstandings and misnomers of the spiritual life and indeed any kind of life, from the beginning of time to now is that suffering, pain and disaster happens not because of our sin, but for other reasons.  We hear this misunderstanding in the First Reading when the woman whose son is dying, says to Elijah “Have you come to bring my sins home to me and to kill my son”.  What she is saying there is that the perilous situation of her son and his approaching death, has been caused by her sins and of course in the light of Christ and His revelation we say completely and utterly NO to this proposition.  As with that woman do we not find ourselves at time saying “Has this happened because of something that I have done” or “If I had acted differently this person would not have died”.

In strange ways often with guilt, shame and tears we want to wallow in our loss and pain and we want to try and deal with it ourselves.  That can often be the route to addition with alcohol, gambling, sex, drugs or whatever.  Think of St Paul in today’s Second Reading, Paul was a master of persecuting the Christians.  He had built up a machinery of guilt, accusation and condemnation and he could not open his heart to know the love of God.  As we know on the road to Damascus, Christ’s heart exploded in love and consumed Paul.  For us today Christ comes to us with a heart wanting to heal and forgive, in truth a heart wanting to explode in love.

Very simply, Christ wants us to give to Him what belongs to us and not to Him.  He asks us to turn to Him and to give Him our sin, sorrow and loss.  It is then that His love envelops us and gives us life.  The son of the widow of Nain and the son of the woman in the First Reading, had their children returned to them full of life and God’s grace.  They were in truth moments of resurrection which had happened because the heart of God had exploded in love.  We read “A great prophet has appeared among us – God has visited His people”.  In truth, Christ has come to His people and enveloped them with the love of His Sacred Heart.