After listening to our first reading and Luke’s gospel we can just imagine the joy, the wonder and the excitement that filled the hearts of the mothers of these two sons, their only sons, after Elijah and Jesus gave these dead young men back to their mothers, alive and well. This gift of their sons totally changed the lives of these two women.
The mothers were both widows and to be a childless widow put women into desperate social situations. As widows these two lost the primary person who was supposed to look after them, their husbands. With the death of their sons, their only sons, they lost the only support and their last connection their husband’s families. Now they are totally dependent on the good will and generosity their husband’s families. Without that support they were totally destitute.
When these widowed mothers lost their sons, they lost everything of value in their lives. Their own lives lost meaning. They had nothing to live for. To have their sons restored by Elijah and Jesus they were given they were given a new lease on a meaningful life and so we can just imagine their great joy.
The point of these two readings, the truth in these two stories is that God is Lord over life and death.
This is a truth we must uphold, God is Lord over life and death, as our government grapples with a new legislation concerning medical assisted suicide. Was it Woody Allen who said, ’everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die’? We are all going to die. The how and when is for God to know. I can’t get my head around this ‘right to die’ thinking. We are so conscious of our rights but seldom think of our obligations, obligations to respect our lives and the lives of others.
As Catholic Christians we have an obligation to respect and protect all life, this sacred gift we have from God. This means standing for the right to life, a just wage, affordable housing, good health care and many other social issues that affect human worth and dignity.
No matter what our bishops say about this important matter their teachings will have no impact on men and women who are convinced that they have the right to end their own lives by what is known as assisted suicide or physician – assisted death. Their teaching will have no influence on those who see death as an entrance into nothingness.
Pope Pius XII taught that we did not have to take extraordinary means to sustain life. What was extraordinary means in those days are ordinary means today because of the advancements in medicine. Some of the treatments people undergo in their illness really don’t prolong life, they only postpone death. We are not obliged to prolong a life by invasive procedures that really do not relieve the distress people endure.
Our church has a long history in the ministry of healing. Our first hospitals in Canada sprang from religious communities of women devoted to caring for the poor. Our church, as well as other people support palliative and hospice care. We are not being hysterical when we warn about the slippery slope of the abuses that have developed in other countries that have legislation on assisted suicide.
With today’s scriptures telling of life restored through the healing ministries of Elijah and Jesus in mind, may we hold to the truth our God is the Lord of life and death. We pray for legislators grappling with this issue strictly on human terms, we pray for and support men and women of any age dealing with their realities of diminishing mental and physical health and are led to believe they are a burden to their families and a drain on our health care system. We pray for their family members, their doctors, nurses and care-givers who journey with them in their lasts days. We remember the truth that our God is the Lord of life and death and the human life is not a disposable object.