Live for Others
User's Guide to Sunday, June 5
Sunday, June 5, is the 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Mass Readings: 1 Kings 17:17-24; Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13; Galatians 1:11-19; Luke 7:11-17
The most important words in today’s Gospel might be “gave him to his mother.”
The first reading and Gospel tell similar stories of a young man being raised from the dead, and they both contain that phrase. After each miracle, both Elijah and Jesus “gave him to his mother.”
These young men were not raised from the dead for their own sakes. They aren’t restored to give them a second chance.
Each is restored because his mother needs him. A widow had no means of support without a man. Each young man’s return would transform his mother’s life.
This is always why God restores life — even spiritual life. It is the same with St. Paul in the second reading. He reminds the Galatians that he, too, needed to be restored from a kind of death.
“You heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it,” he said. When God reached out to him and converted him, first, he went into a kind of personal retreat, and then he went to the Church. “After three years I went up to Jerusalem to talk with Cephas and remained with him for 15 days.”
He is restored to life in Christ not for himself but, as he says in the reading, God “was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles.”
This is still the reason Jesus Christ moves any of us. I remember when I was young and passionate about learning apologetics: I knew how to defend almost any doctrine against skeptics, Protestants or dissenters, but my apologetics know-how mostly served my own joy and personal appreciation of the faith. I went to work each day on Capitol Hill and talked politics, not apologetics.
My cubicle was down a narrow hallway big enough for only one person to walk through at a time. One day after work, two co-workers began chatting in my hallway, blocking my way. They were talking about the Catholic Church because one was planning on leaving it. They were convincing themselves that the Church was no better than any other denomination and had no particular hold on them.
There was literally no way for me to avoid the conversation: I had to use my apologetics know-how to answer their very real questions about the faith.
Afterward, it occurred to me: God used me. Before that meeting, I felt special and smart. After it, I realized that the only reason I was led to know all of that information was to share it with others.
We don’t exist for ourselves. We don’t get graces to become awesome. We exist, and our graces exist, for others.
God can do anything; he can convert men like Paul, and he can even raise people from the dead. But the one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit gives us his life for the sake of others.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is available for preorder at Amazon.com.
Image: St. Paul preaches in Athens by Raphael/Wikipedia, public domain