REFLECTION: GIFT OF LIFE.
Sunday, June 5, 2016. Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C).
The stories in the first reading and the gospel passage today have several things in common. Both of them were cases of raising dead persons back to life. In both cases the dead persons were the only sons of their mothers, and they were both widows. Both Elijah and Jesus performed their miracles out of compassion for the bereaved mothers and other family members of the deceased. They did not perform their miracles to prove a point or show off their powers. That was one thing Jesus and the prophets never did.
But there was one essential difference. Elijah called on God to intervene by restoring the life of the son of the widow of Zarephet. That is he appealed to God to use His power to restore the life of the child. Jesus on the other hand, used His power to raise the son of the widow of Nain. That is because, as a divine person, son of God and God Himself, He had the power to give life to a dead person, something Elijah could not do as a mere man. It is a widely held belief that life is a gift of God, and only He can give it. Parents do not give life to their children. Parents only mediate the life that God gives to their children; that is to say, they are agents, channels through whom God transmit life to their children. After God has given life, He expects people to take over from there and nuture life He has given. That is always the case whenever God gives anything. He expects people to “invest” His gift, so to say, and derive maximum returns from their investment. In a similar way, God expects us to nuture the gift of life in oursleves first of all, and then fellow men and women, beginning with those of our families, since “charity begins at home”.
First of all, we must do everything we can to preserve the life that God has given us. We have no right, for instance to take our own life by committing suicide, for the simple reason that the life we have is really not our own. It belongs to God. God gave it to us only on trust and we shall be required to give an account of it when our earthly life is over. We should never even endanger our life by engaging in activities that involve the risk of losing it. That is not all. We should even do everything possible to improve the quality of life. If we fall ill, for instance, we should seek appropriate medical attention. We may have recourse to prayer for healing. But that does not preclude having recourse to medical attention. Both should go hand in hand. If possible, we should cultivate the habit of undergoing regular medical check-up. We should take adequate rest. It is wrong-headed religion to engage in nightly prayer vigils instead of getting a good sleep. An occasional vigil may be in order. But to make a regular habit of vigils is wrong, as it militates against the well being of the life of God has given us. We should take time out to exrcise on a regular basis. That too will enhance the quality of life.