Are We All Elijah?

bike closeup

When Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11–17), his Jewish listeners must’ve remembered Elijah, who raised a widow’s son during a visit to Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17–24).

Life and death miracles aren’t relegated to biblical history or extraordinary prophets.

Fr. Dan Looney in Sacramento tells about the night last November, after a meeting in the church, when a violent pounding assaulted the church door. Theresa, the last volunteer in the church with Fr. Dan, went to open it.

“A man is in the street… (pant, pant) off his bike… do you have a phone to call 911? I think he’s dead.”

Theresa, a nurse, hurried to the street, immediately began CPR on the lifeless figure, and diligently kept it up until paramedics arrived. As the ambulance pulled away, Theresa turned to the priest and shook her head. “He’s gone.”

But was he? Could Theresa’s CPR make her a modern-day Elijah?

Fr. Dan searched the papers for days, looking over the obituaries, hoping for some news of the man—very curious to learn who the cyclist was and whether he had lived. As the days flew past, the cyclist stayed in the back of Fr. Dan’s mind. A month later, while greeting some parishioners after Mass, he spoke with some friends.

“My brother-in-law suffered a heart attack, but he’s home with us now. He apparently fell off his bike…”

It was the same man. Fr. Dan filled in the details, including where they might retrieve the bike that the brother-in-law feared was lost.

The family described their relative as reclusive and uninterested in church. Would this experience turn his heart? Had the faith of others saved his life?

And whatever happened to the sons of the widows of Nain and Zarephath? We never hear about them again.

We focus on the faith of the mothers, the actions of healers, and of Theresa and Fr. Dan, who offer hope in a skeptical world.

Are you called to raise the dead? How do you react when you hear a pounding on your door?

About Loretta Pehanich 27 Articles

Loretta Pehanich is a spiritual director and author of Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. She is involved with the Center for Ignatian Spirituality in Sacramento and its program in giving the Spiritual Exercises. She has more than 20 years of experience in ministry, including retreat work and small group leadership. Loretta currently works as a fundraiser in Sacramento. She and her husband have four children and nine grandchildren.

2 Comments on Are We All Elijah?

  1. That is a great story! How fortunate that Fr. Dan was able to find out what happened to the injured cyclist – and that Theresa’s compassion did indeed save him. We never know how our actions can affect the lives of others, maybe not quite as dramatically as in this story, but still in a positive way that promotes Gospel values.

  2. My husband is a firefighter. The night before reading this blog post, he was driving a colleague back to the station when they saw a car crash on the side of the road. My husband used his halligan to rip off the door and drag the trapped and injured person away as the car was engulfed in flames. The other firefighter used a hand fire extinguisher to control the blaze. As people screamed, my husband stopped the blood flowing from the person’s injury and cleared the airway. Calmly he told bystanders to call 911 again.
    Yes, my husband was Elijah that day.

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