Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
One of the greatest fears a parent faces is losing a child. Before our first child was born, I woke up from a deep sleep with an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety. This was new territory for me: every inch of the world felt dangerous, and I felt helpless. All I could do was pray. When our child—a son—was born, I entered new territory again, the experience of pure joy. But still, with all three of our children, joy is always tempered with worry.
I can only imagine the widow’s pain at losing her only child. To make matters worse, life without her son would be tough in a patriarchal society.
When Jesus shows compassion and restores the young man to life, I want to stand up and cheer. All my parental fears fly away. Faith becomes a superpower against the worst of possible circumstances.
But on deeper reflection, we see the real point: Jesus goes to great lengths—this time violating purity laws—to reach out to those in the greatest need. Whether bringing a son back to life or sharing a meal with tax collectors, Jesus restores people to right relationships with each other, and with God.
Today, let’s reflect on ways God is calling us to new life. How can we be agents of compassion and healing, especially for those in the greatest need?
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life
If we wish to learn the art of living and dying well . . . we must follow Christ and his apostles, who, by word and deed, have taught us that . . . the hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ is alone to be desired and expected.