One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

September 19, 2006

For Tuesday of the Twenty-Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 7:11-17

In the holy Gospel according to Luke, today is the first time we witness Jesus raise someone from the dead.
The crowds who witness it have two things to say.
A great prophet has arisen among us.

God has visited his people.

The crowds spread that testimony throughout the land.
John the Baptist hears of it.
He sends two of his disciples to ask that Jesus either identify himself as the “One Who Is to Come” or tell them to look for someone else.
Instead of giving them an immediate reply, Jesus sets about curing more of the sick, the possessed and the blind.
Then he tells the disciples of John to report to John what they have seen and heard; and he lists for them what they have seen and heard.
What I find interesting is the order in which Jesus lists his “Messianic accomplishments.”
First, he lists healings of the body.
Then he names the miracle in today’s Gospel: the raising up of the dead.
First, healings of the body; then, the raising up of the dead.
It appears to be a logical progression.
The interesting thing is that the raising of the dead is not the “grand finale” of the list of “Messianic accomplishments” that Jesus recites for the disciples of John the Baptist.
Here’s the complete list as Jesus puts it.
Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind receive their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
and the deaf hear,
THE DEAD ARE RAISED UP,
[and, finally]
THE POOR HAVE GOOD NEWS PREACHED TO THEM.

The original language actually says, “The poor are evangelized.”
The progression of Messianic wonders: first, healings; then, raising the dead; finally, evangelization.
I admit that I would rather see a raising of the dead than hear the Gospel preached.
I’d rather be entertained than evangelized.
As Jesus lists his Messianic accomplishments, he gives the priority to evangelization over raising the dead.
Not only that, he specifies evangelization of the POOR.
Mother Teresa has confirmed this Messianic priority as one that the poor themselves hold.
Here are her own words.
You will be surprised to know
that in the poorest neighborhoods
in many of the cities where we live and work,
when we get close to the people who live in shacks,
the first thing they ask for is not bread or clothes,
EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE DYING of hunger and are naked.
They ask us to teach them the WORD OF GOD.
People are hungry for God.
They long to hear his Word.

“Even though they are dying.”
The poor ask for evangelization over and above escaping death.
After the crowds in today’s Gospel saw Jesus raise a man from the dead, they carried the essence of evangelization throughout the countryside, saying, “God has visited his people.”
Today in the Eucharist, we will know the same Messiah in the good news of his own flesh and blood: “God has visited his people.”
Perhaps we’re just not poor enough to appreciate that as much as we could.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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