Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst,”
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.
I am in Dallas this week for the NCDVD (National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Director) annual conference. Please pray for us as vocation directors from around the USA and other English-speaking countries gather together to discuss best practices and how we can best help young people follow God’s call.
This Gospel reading for Tuesday has a couple of important parts to it. First of all, we see how Jesus was moved with pity when he saw this widow grieving over the death of her only son. Not only is it excruciating for a mother to bury her son (Mary would know this pain when she buried Jesus), but during this era women only had status in society through the men in their lives (husbands and sons). Since her husband was already dead, this poor woman was losing everything by the death of her son also. Jesus had great pity on her. This would explain partly why Jesus gave Mary to John at the foot of the cross (this would give her status in society – Joseph was presumably dead and Jesus was an only Son).
Another part of this Gospel shows Jesus’ power even over death. He brought this young man back to death as he did several others in the Scriptures (Lazarus, the little girl,…). There was nothing beyond His power as God incarnate. This is important for us to realize in our lives. There is nothing beyond the power of Jesus. If you think it is impossible, think again. All things are possible through Christ!
This brought up the question in my mind: Why doesn’t Jesus save all people from death when He knows how painful it is for us who are left behind? I certainly wish that Jesus had brought my mother back to life, but He didn’t. As I prayed about this question, the answer that kept coming to mind from the Lord was, “My ways are not yours ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth; so are my ways above your ways.” In other words, we don’t know the answers to many questions in this life, but we must trust in the providence, the mercy and the wisdom of God. Sometimes we think we know better than God!
It is also important to realize that death is not the end – it the beginning of our new life in heaven. Although death hurts those who are left behind, the person who dies enters eternal joy with Jesus in heaven, God willing – the goal of all of us. So why did Jesus bring this young man back to life then? My first response would be that He was so moved by the pain of his widow and mother that Jesus wanted to ease her pain. He loves us and always is trying to love us, especially during the most troubling of times. This young man is also a figure of Jesus, the only son of His mother. Jesus, like this young man, rises from the dead, bringing joy to everyone.
Let us trust in God’s great power and know that all things are possible with God. Let us also trust that He knows our pain and suffering and walks with us to help us carry the load. But at the same time let us trust in the wisdom of God that He wants the best for each one of us.