The presence or absence of God has monopolized many a discussion through the centuries till the present time. Some accuse a believer of placing their trust in a being which is invisible and transcendent—a Supreme Being who lives apart from the daily routine of peoples’ lives. The existentialist philosophers like Sartre, Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, and others like them from the middle part of the twentieth century mocked Christians who believed in a God who had condemned them to an absurd world where nothingness was the cause and effect, and the finality of life was also a pure entity of nothingness. We are in the world of the damned. It was a movement of anger also against God in whom they did not want to believe whom they affirmed remained on the sidelines in the face of the evils of the world. Absent, they said.
But we know differently. We know this God personally since He has sent His Son into the world to let us know that we are not lost, as Jean Paul Sartre affirmed, and we are not condemned to the absurd, quite the contrary, we have been thought of, individually and collectively, from all eternity and that God's plan of salvation was indeed based on unconditional love for mankind. Not only were we not lost, He will show us the way and the truth in His Son, and he will point to us the loftier and fulfilling goals of life so that the end will be just a beginning of the fullness of life and eternity which He possesses and wants to share with all those who trust in His promise.
The Hebrew Scriptures already reveal to us about this God who is so proximate to His People that he walks among them, being a guide, a father, a leader, a counselor, a consoler, a rescuer, and even a warrior against their enemies. He will be their God and He wants all of them to be His people. It is in Jesus that we come to a better understanding of this God since he has been sent to show all the reality of this transcendent God. On numerous occasions in his life, as portrayed in the Gospels, Jesus invites us to see him as the ONE sent by the Father. The Father and he are one in the Spirit, he affirms. Throughout his ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing we see this proximity of God among us. In this Sunday's Gospel from Luke (7: 11-17) we see this Jesus, the Son of God, who is moved to great compassion for a poor woman, a widow, from the town of Naim, who has lost her only young son (neaniskos, in Greek), not yet a man, and this mother is on the road to bury her young child. Jesus sees grief and identifies with his own emotions at the loss of her child and approaches the cortege and says to the woman: DO NOT WEEP. Then he steps forward and touches the coffin and commands the young man to "arise."
We notice that there are no questions asked. We sometimes do and frame our own actions on the answers perceived or received. He also does not make any demands to follow some prescriptions of the law or commands in the future. Jesus just responds to this woman's pain—and he heals, he liberates, he creates new life. It is one more manifestation of the unconditional love of God. We, on the contrary, place many conditions at times to those who come into our life.
We must remember that this is the God who calls us to do the same: barriers, inattention to the poor and helpless, discrimination, rejection of others for whatever reason need to come down so that we may be truly Christian and act as Jesus did. We are to be like him. We are to be the bearers of His Mercy, as Pope Francis has repeated again and again. We are asked to assist in the building of new life, new hope, new possibilities in others as much as we can. I see that with the persons who come day after day, six or seven every day, to our Office, and they meet their helpers, the men and women of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, who are the visible face of YOUR generosity, either with the Black Bag Second Collection on the First Sunday of the month, or through the Poor Box in the back of the Church, or by mail. Not too see the poor and act on it is to despise God, Pope Francis said a short time ago. Strong words, indeed.
Nourished at this Eucharist, we endeavor to perform little miracles of lifting the grief and the spirits of others, especially those who are at the margins of life. Together we can say to them, as we read in today's Gospel, with our prayers and our actions in Jesus' name: "WEEP NO MORE".
May the peace of Christ be with you always,