Since the 7th February our Sundays have been purple for Lent of white or gold for Easter and the great feasts of Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi. Now we are back to the more humdrum numbered Sundays, ‘ordinary’ time, but still caught up in the life re-fashioning, life re-defining event of Jesus Christ.
Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.
The Gospel speaks of the mercy of God and its potential for restoring us to life. There were surely many children died in Jesus’ life time, and many mothers grieved. But it was to this one family Jesus responded. The consequence for them was extraordinary and particular. But it is not an event significant only for that family. Its meaning and promise is for all of us – and the story is passed on by the community that learnt that, and were (are!) anxious for us to learn it to.
From the miracle of Nain we learn that death is not the end; that our deaths and bereavements are not insignificant to God; that he is our rock, our hope, our fortress; that whatever form it takes he is the source of our salvation; even though we die, in him we can stand firm.
- For what do you cry?
- Bring your sorrow and loss to the Lord in prayer. For the first time or for this further time share with him your grief and ask for comfort and hope.
Carving of the raising of the widow’s son. Capernaum. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.