10 Sunday C: Compassion of Jesus - Raising the dead


10th Sunday C from Jaimelito Gealan

 Introduction: 

We see it every day on the news—the raw grief of a parent whose child has died, perhaps in a drive-by shooting or while serving in Afghanistan. Sometimes the tragedy is tied to an automobile accident. We hear of these deaths so often that we become numb to the pain. Then comes something like the shooting in Newton, Connecticut. Parents, friends and neighbors weep.
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  a) A Key to the Reading

Today’s gospel gives us the story of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain. A look at the literary context of the 7th chapter of the Gospel of Luke will help us to understand this episode. The evangelist wishes to show that Jesus opens the way for us by showing us something of what is new about God as it comes to us in the proclamation of the Good News. This is how  transformation and openness come about: Jesus listens to the prayer of a foreigner, a non-Jew (Lk 7:1-10)  and raises the son of a widow (Lk 7:11-17) The way in which Jesus reveals the Reign of God comes as a surprise to the Jewish brethren who were not used to this kind of openness. It is a surprise also to John the Baptist who sends messengers to ask, Are you the one who is to come or are we to  wait for another (Lk 7:18-30). Jesus mocks the fickleness of his contemporaries: They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.”’(Lk 7:31-35). At the end we see Jesus’ openness to women (Lk 7:36-50)
 
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Reflections: 

We often see very sad cases where the bread-winner of the family is taken, and we may wonder why the good God allows this to happen. If we knew all the facts, however, and if we could read the divine plan, we might see that this very happening was a divine blessing for the departed one and for those left to suffer his loss.

There are divine miracles of healing going on around us today but they are not recognized as such. There are also savings from sudden death, of which those saved are utterly ignorant. It is only when we reach the future life that we shall be able to fully comprehend the divine compassion which regulated our lives from the cradle to the grave.

Be assured, then, that Christ still has compassion for all mankind. Put your trust in that compassion and thank him daily for it. He may not always save a beloved one from an early death, or save us from a long illness (a request we see as all-essential for us, and as a very apt occasion for Christ to prove his compassion), but that fervent request of ours is answered in another way, in a favor of which we had or could not have dreamed at that time.
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Three Parts to our reflection on the Gospel: 

1.              God’s Compassion: Hosea and Amos often refer to the orphans and widows. God’s favouritism for the poor and forsaken. Jesus continues that mission and concern in all his teachings and life. Widowed, only son, etc are highlighted…..

We read every day of the pain of mothers because her only daughter is raped and murdered.  

2.              Reality of death and loss in our world: Think of the parents of cricketer Sreesanth and others….think of the 19 year old bread winner snuffed out by a 20 year old college student in Bangalore last week driving an expensive Audi car at 100 KM speed through the busy Residency Road….Think of the parents of two actresses last week one arrested in Delhi and other committed suicide in Mumbai. 

3.              New life in Jesus: He came to give life. Whether to the repentant thief on the cross or the Samaritan woman at the well or new wine in Cana or new life to the boy, Jesus’ mission is to give life, life in abundance.

When Father Sebastian gave one of his kidneys to the Moslem man he met on a bus, when Fr John gave his shoulder to weep on to the Hindu cricketer Sreesanth in Tihar Jail, when the American parents of a young boy sleeping in the back of a car and was accidentally shot by rival gangs on the highway in Italy gave away every part of their son’s body to Italians so that at least a few would have new life …..we celebrate the new life…. 

Nick Vujicic, No Arms, No Legs, No Worries: He now goes around the world motivating school kids and preaching the gospel.  

The Lord has raised so many people from prison cells, addictions, abandonments, disabilities into life by his famous words, “Young man, I tell you, arise”.

We celebrate this gospel when we empathize like the Lord with the pains, losses, misfortunes and abandonments of people and find ways to raise them to new possibilities, opportunities and options of a new life.  

(T.Kayala)
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Father James Gilhooley  

A layman out in the Australians bush was asked to conduct a funeral. He began to sweat. This was a first. He searched the Gospels to see how Jesus conducted funerals. He discovered Christ never officiated at funerals. He only presided at resurrections.

 I once visited Nain. It was in Christ's time, I wager and is today a nothing town. It is a nice place to be from. About a ten-minute walk from town, there is a cemetery. To this same burial ground the broken-hearted widow of Nain was slowly walking two thousand years ago. 

 This poor woman had already buried her husband there. This time their only son would join him. One can imagine her sadness. She was left alone in a culture, which was most unkind to women even in the best of times. Her future would be a life of noisy desperation. She would not enjoy the luxury of a pension, Social Security, and food stamps. 

 Probably she had hocked her wedding band at the town's pawn shop to guarantee a decent burial for her boy. Luke wants this woman to be a stand-in for all the millions of women who live around us in grief and tears. 

 The funeral procession was headed by paid professional mourners with musical instruments. They would be noisily keening in sorrow for the deceased. One hopes they knew his name.

 Apparently Jesus was an unknown in Nain.  There is no other Gospel mention of Him being in that town. Unlike Martha and Mary as well as the Canaanite woman nobody begged anything of Him. This Nain boy was stone cold dead and would stay that way.

 Jesus was rocked to His core at the sight of this once wife and mother. William Barclay tells us there is no stronger word in the Greek language than the one used by Luke to describe the feelings of Jesus. The word literally means He was stirred from His deepest depths. And the same term is used three times by Matthew and two times by Mark to describe the reactions of the Teacher in similar situations. The Gospel writers are advising us that in the midst of our pain Jesus does really give a damn.

 To yesterday's world, this observation re Christ's compassion had to come across as staggering news. A popular belief in the pre-Christian world was Stoicism. It numbered among its flock such heavies as Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Stoics taught that the most significant point about God was His inability to feel anything about the human condition. 

 This Gospel, Barclay opines, must have stood the Stoic world on its head. It informs the Stoics that the Song of God is wiped out by human sorrow. He takes the widow's work-scarred hands into His own and tells her soothingly, "Do not weep." A wordsmith took his inspiration from this encounter. He penned, "In every pang that rends the heart, the Man of Sorrows plays a part." 

 But Luke, who tradition says was a painter, has not yet completed the canvas. The Christ not only has compassion. He also has power. He drew from the side of the widow and went up to the men carrying the corpse. He proved that day He is both he Lord of life as well as death. He dramatically proved His statement, "And because I live, you will live." Luke wants us all to note that his Employer is responding not to faith (there is none) but to human need.

 The romantics teach us we can find God in autumn colors, flowers, the Oceanside, and in the mountains. All that is true. But also we can find God when we experience the compassion of another when we weep. We find Him too when we ourselves give solace to someone in need. A "Where are you hurting?" works wonders. This is called the sacrament of Christ's compassion. 

 Luke reminds us today that it always easy to play God.

 And today the people who most need both our compassion and help are women. A report from the United Nations informs us that though women make up half the population of the world, but ten percent of the wealth of the world belongs to them. And they own but one percent of the wealth of the world belongs to them. And they own but one percent of the world's land. Seventy five percent of the people facing starvation are women and of course the children who depend on them for life. In the face of these figures, we should be most sympathetic as well as helpful to all groups reaching out to constructively help these women around our global village. This Gospel proves Jesus would approve. 
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 Father Joseph Pellegrino  

Tenth Sunday: The Compassion of the Lord

Many years ago I was a part time chaplain at a Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  Some of the children I visited were terminally ill, usually with some form of cancer.  I will admit, to my shame, that at first I found it difficult to visit these children.  But after a few weeks, I stopped seeing their sickness and started seeing the precious boys and girls that they were.  

 One day, I went into a teenager's room, a wonderful boy named Jamie Kelleher, and found a very excited young man.  It seems that while he was sleeping, Willie Stargell came into his room and left him a note of encouragement.   Willie Stargell was one of the most loved baseball player on the Pittsburg Pirates and in the entire major leagues at that time. That was all Jamie would talk about for the next number of days.  It took his mind off his problems.  I remember looking in the paper to see if there was anything about Willie Stargell visiting the hospital or even being in Columbus, but I couldn't find anything.  Evidently, Mr.Stargell happened to be passing through but took some time out of his schedule for these seriously ill children. I checked with the nurses, and they told me that Stargell and a few other ball players saw the hospital from the highway and decided to see the kids. Willie Stargell was a great man.  His greatness is remembered in Pittsburgh, in Cooperstown and at Children's Hospital in Columbus.

 All the gospels emphasize the greatness of the Lord.  The Gospel of Mark presents people pushing against Jesus, crowding Him, trying just to touch him. The Gospel of  John presents Jesus as the Eternal Word existing for all time but becoming flesh in our time.   The Gospel of Luke emphasizes  Jesus’ greatness in a different way.  In  Luke, Jesus manifests His greatness in His compassion.  We have an example of this in today’s Gospel reading.  Jesus comes upon a widow following her son's funeral litter.  He feels deeply for her.  Her sorrow becomes His sorrow.  He gives the son back to the mother.  Like Elijah in the first reading, He conquers death.  Like Elijah, He shows His greatness in His compassion. 

 The Gospel of Luke is the Gospel of the Compassionate Lord.  The message is clear: the Lord cares for each of us as individuals.  He is not too big for us, or too great for us.  In fact, He shows His greatness in the concern He has for each of us.

And He calls us to follow. To be as He is.  In the Gospel of Matthew, we come upon the order "Be perfect as my heavenly father is perfect."  In the Gospel of Luke the same directive is rephrased to: "Be compassionate as my heavenly father is compassionate."

 It is impossible for us to be too caring, too giving, or too concerned about others.  It's just difficult.  We have busy schedules.  We can't handle additional emotional grief.  We find excuses why we can't spend time with a family with a sick child, or with the elderly lady down the block. Many times people have said to me, "My child came down with cancer, and all my friends became strangers." We were surrounded with help at first, but as the weeks became months and he became sicker and sicker, many people seemed to disappear.  Perhaps that's because it hurts to expose ourselves to another's grief.  But this hurt can bring support, this hurt can bring healing.  Sure, we are busy.   Jesus was busy too.  But He didn't look for excuses to stop everything and reach out to the hurting. His heart went out to those in need.  He was compassionate.

 His heart goes out to us too.  He cares about every one of us.  And He calls us to be like him, to be compassionate. You remember what He said after He washed His disciples feet before the Last Supper: “What you have seen me do, you must do.” We have to allow the compassion of the Lord to flow through us to others. 

This takes courage.  This takes love, His Love. 

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Patrick Clark 

The readings for this Sunday invite us to think about death. I think about death quite a bit as it is, so I am wary of my tendency to read death into texts when it is clearly not the dominant theme, but I am pretty sure  this week’s readings about the two widows’ sons being risen from the dead invite us to think about death.

It is somewhat disquieting to the modern quasi-gnostic mind how God confronts death in these two readings. Elijah and Jesus do not have a very impressive bedside manner, as it were. They are abrupt and bossy, and make absolutely no attempt to acknowledge and affirm the feelings of the women who are grieving for their dead. (I can’t imagine any counseling professor being very pleased with their technique here.) Conspicuously absent is any attempt to bring the two widows to that ever-desired destination of the modern process of grief: acceptance. In fact, Elijah seems to go in quite the opposite direction: “O LORD, my God, will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?” What a decidedly non-accepting stance to take to the misfortune of death! There is no attempt to tell the women that their loved ones are “in a better place” or that death is simply the culmination of life. To the contrary, Elijah and Jesus seem to accentuate and confirm the deeply disruptive and traumatic nature of the deaths, which is only appropriate given the fact that these are children (who are not supposed to die before their parents) and that these are the sons of widows, who represent the women’s last hope of familial legitimacy and security. The point is that there is absolutely nothing of the stoic acceptance of death as natural here, no trace of the tepid approval of death as part of a never-ending “circle of life.” 

To modern eyes, what these men of God do is deeply unnatural. One of my colleagues once had a student begin his term paper on the resurrection with this line: “When I think of rising from the dead, I think of two things: zombies and Jesus Christ. Since this course obviously has nothing to do with zombies, I will write this paper about the resurrection of Jesus.” It is an inauspicious beginning to an assigned essay, but the smartass has a point: rising from the dead is not something that usually happens, and when it does happen, we would probably not immediately start celebrating as if we are fully aware of what is going on and what it means. In these two cases, though, the miracle is met with profound joy and praise. “The woman replied to Elijah, ‘Now indeed I know that you are a man of God.’” The response of the crowds surrounding the widow of Nain is even more telling: “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” 

Isn’t it interesting that in today’s parlance, to let someone die of natural causes rather than attempting some intervention to save them is described as “letting God decide” or “letting nature take its course”? We often throw around the phrase “playing God” precisely when referring to attempts to prolong life beyond the limits set by circumstance, but the people in these stories see in the raising of their beloved children—an act as “unnatural” as it gets—God’s presence among them. Isn’t that remarkable? By implication, they would have seen the misfortune of death as something that indicates God’s absence. Yet that is quite the scriptually sound conclusion to make!

Notice the psalm for today: “O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world; you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.” For the people of Israel, Yahweh is the Creator of all things and thus the ongoing source of all life. To have life (l’chaim) is to participate in God, to be close to Him, to share in his being. Likewise, to lose life—to be sick or to die—is an indication of distance from the God who is life itself. The idea that death is precisely that which brings us close to God is one that is very foreign to the ancient (and modern) Hebrew mind. That is why the resurrection of the body is so important: it points to the Christian conviction that our final end is one that will gather up all that is good and real about this life and exceed it in perfection and wholeness.

This good news of resurrection, if we are to take it seriously, is bound to be disruptive, even jarring, to our normal mode of thought and life. It is not something that we could have thought up by simply contemplating nature; its transmission depends upon a revelatory encounter in which God comes to his people and makes himself present by acting on our behalf to create something new. That is why St. Paul, in the epistle for today, stresses the fact that the gospel which he preaches is not something revealed to him “by flesh and blood.” It is not a part of the natural history of his experience as a human being, nor as a faithful Jew. It came to him violently, and (literally?) knocked him off his horse. 

We see in the readings for this Sunday the Christian attitude toward death displayed in all its shocking novelty: when God comes among his people, the dead will not stay dead nor will they be relegated to some ethereal shadow-existence in other people’s minds. Rather, like the widows’ sons and like Jesus himself, they will be raised: they will be brought to the fullness of life—life so concrete and complete that they (or we) could never have imagined it.
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Prayer Reflection 

Lord, so often we write off people;
- alcoholics and drug addicts;
- delinquent children;
- vagrants and those we call unemployable. 

We thank you for the times that you sent Jesus into our town
accompanied by his disciples and a large number of people:
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- the Vincent de Paul Society
- communities such as L’Arche,
Emmanuel, Living Water and Zion communities ;
- those who work in rehabilitation centers.
Strong in their compassion they made us stand still,
got those whom we were carrying out for burial to stand up
and begin to speak for themselves, and gave them back to their mothers
so that we were filled with awe and praised you for having visited your people.

 Lord, there is a lot of despair in many countries today.
There was a time when these people dreamt of better days
and a new world they would create.
Today, like the widow in the gospel story,
they are seeing these dreams being carried out for burial.
We pray that your Church, like Jesus, may feel compassion for these people
and give them back their hopes for a glorious future.

“It strikes me that the reason why the world is not very much interested in the Church is essentially because the Church is not really interested in Christ.” A priest at the Annual Conference of Priests of England and Wales

Lord, we sometimes feel that the Church is losing its influence in the world
and we conclude that we need more TV programs, more learned teaching,
or more organizations.

But if people see the Church living the story of Jesus, going into towns,
feeling compassion for those who mourn, telling them not to cry,
and giving them back their reason for living,
then they will be filled with awe,
they will know that a great prophet has appeared among them,
and this opinion of the Church will spread throughout the towns
and all over the countryside.

“All over the world I have found small groups who are building a new world in the shell of the one crumbling around us.”                Maisie Ward 

Lord, there are many things happening in the world today
That fill us with apprehension:
- thousands of abortions carried out every day;
- famine alongside an abundance of food;
- children dying of disease even though medicines are available.
It is as if our civilization is being carried out for burial.
Yet if we look closely we will see that Jesus is alive,
Accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people
Who are not his disciples but live according to his values:
- organizations like OXFAM that are always there to provide relief in disaster areas;
- the co-operative movement;
- Amnesty International protecting the rights of those jailed unjustly.
They are putting their hands on the bier so that the bearers stand still.
They are giving life back to our world.

Lord, we pray for political leaders.
They very easily become isolated from people
as they get caught up with problems at the national level.
We pray that like Jesus they may go into the towns and villages or their country,
together with great numbers of people who surround them,
and there see the little people who are weeping
at the loss of what was most precious to them,
and not only feel pity for them, but effectively bring joy back to their lives,
so that the country can feel blessed again.

Lord, when Jesus died on the cross humanity’s only hope was gone;
By raising him from the dead you told us not to cry and gave him back to us.

 Lord, we pray for countries that are experiencing violence
- Iraq, Turkey, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Israel.
So many of their young people are being carried out for burial.
Raise up among them people like Jesus who will stop the violence
and the young people will have reason to live again.
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ILLUSTRATIONS 

It's a dramatic scene when you think about it -- I mean -- a funeral procession halted and the trip to the cemetery interrupted. Of course it was not anything like our scene -- a black Cadillac hearse, followed by one or more black Cadillac limousines, followed perhaps by several cars, lights on, concerned not to lose their place in the line in the traffic.

No, this scene was at once more primitive and personal. No city traffic to contend with in this procession. No indifferent motorists disturbed that they were delayed a few minutes for the funeral. No, this is a village scene, people on foot, following the widowed mother who is following the professional mourners with their cymbals, flutes and high-pitched shrieking and wailing.

It is a Palestinian village scene in Nain, just a short distance from Nazareth (Jesus' hometown), and a day's walk from Capernaum (Jesus' new, adopted town). The pallbearers are carrying the body of a young man in a long wicker basket covered by a shroud for burial outside the city. Except for very important people, ancient Jews buried their dead outside the city, usually on the day of death or the next day. Embalming was not practiced.

For modern, indifferent eyes and blasé people, the scene was dramatic enough by itself. Think of it: the dead man was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. The pathos and sorrow of the ages is contained in that statement. In a patriarchal society orphans, such as this young man, and widows, like his mother, were regarded as vulnerable, weak and without much opportunity for economic support. Nonetheless, a great crowd followed the procession, indicating sympathy and support at least for the time being.
That's drama enough -- a large crowd of caring people -- but now there is more. Jesus approaches, apparently coming from Capernaum where he just healed the Roman Centurion's slave. He saw the widowed, desolate mother, had compassion for her, thinking perhaps of his own mother reputedly widowed at an early age.

"Do not weep," he told her. Her tears for her son no doubt now intermingling with the endless salty tears shed for her husband. And in the continuing drama risking ceremonial impurity, he reached out, touched the bier and possibly the body, and the procession halted...
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1.     As a kid were you ever convinced that you HAD to be adopted?

I mean, really: how could you be related to your big-mouthed brother when you are so reserved and quiet? . . . Your math genius parents could never have produced your brain - a brain that can't add up anything without using fingers and toes. . . . How can you be related when you can play almost any musical instrument and your sister is completely tone deaf?

As our personalities develop, as our individual quirks and oddities, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses reveal themselves, we begin to perceive ourselves as truly "different" from everyone else - even our closest family members. But that does not mean - even if you ARE adopted - that your family isn't still your family. Despite all our differences, we are always connected at some foundational level.

As the "family" that was the first century Christian church took shape, it would be hard to find two more radically different personalities than Peter and Paul. Tradition says that both Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome in 64 AD. There is even one theory that Peter and Paul may have been buried together in the same grave at Rome. (See Walter Lowrie, Peter and Paul at Rome [New York: Oxford University Press, 1940]).

But besides sharing death and perhaps burial in common, as well as a passion for Jesus, Peter and Paul were almost opposites. And this is in more ways than looks - if iconography gives us any clue, Peter is tall, stout and bushy-haired and Paul is small, thin and balding...
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2.     Jesus Can, Jesus Will  

You know, I passed a funeral on the road the other day: a hearse followed by a long line of cars all burning their headlights in broad daylight. I followed our quaint Southern custom of pulling off the road and stopping until they were past to honor the deceased and show respect to his loved ones. Because I did not know the people involved, I hardly gave it a second thought, and continued on my way as soon as they were past. But Jesus, as it were, flipped on his own lights, turned his car around, and joined the procession to the gravesite.

As a Minister of the Gospel I have often had to preside at funerals. There one has the great privilege of offering comfort, sympathy, support, and hope based on the glorious Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. But there is also in such moments a feeling of impotence. I can offer hope for the future, but I cannot reverse what has happened in the immediate past. I can offer comfort for the present, but I cannot fill the gap that has been left in people's lives. But the point of this passage is that Jesus could. The point of this passage is that Jesus can. The point of this passage is that Jesus will.

Donald T. Williams, The Widow of Nain's Son
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3.     The Power of Death Reversed 

Alfred Krupp, a famous munitions maker, lived in constant fear of death. Everyone throughout his entire company was strictly forbidden to refer to the subject of death in conversation. He ran from his own house because a relative of his wife's suddenly died there. And when Mrs. Krupp objected, Alfred became so enraged that he initiated what was to be a lifelong separation. During his last sickness, he offered his doctor a million dollars to prolong his life. But, of course, that was impossible.

Death has very real power. Money and prestige and position aren't going to change that. Visits and phone calls and sympathy cards aren't going to change that. Preachers and churches and expensive funerals aren't going to change that.  

Jesus enters into the situation with strange words and even stranger actions, words and actions that at first glance seem totally out of place. He says to the widow, "Don't cry." And then He touches the funeral board, so that all attention will be focused on Him as He addresses the carefully wrapped corpse. "Young man I say to you, get up!" Jesus doesn't wrestle in prayer to His Father. He doesn't struggle in deep spiritual warfare. He simply commands the corpse to get up. And catch this. His command reverses the powers of darkness and death! His command transforms a funeral procession into a family reunion. 

Ron Luchies, A God With Heart
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4.     Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
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5.     Ah, that's the reason a bird can sing

On his darkest day he believes in Spring. 

Douglas Malloch (1877-1938), You Have to Believe
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6.     Two Processions

Two processions - one going into Nain and headed up by Jesus, the Lord of Life; the other going out of Nain and headed up by death.

The two processions are on a collision course. Can't you just see it?! This kinds of reminds me of two freight trains hurtling towards each other on the same track. Or, it reminds me of the movie, "The Patriot" starring Mel Gibson with a long line of British Redcoats and a long line of American Revolutionaries charging towards each other. You know something has to give.

Most people have come to believe that death never gives way. We've always been told that the two certain things in life are death and taxes. Death comes upon every person. The statistics are most impressive, 100% of those who have ever been born have died. And again, with a few exceptions, most of those who have died have stayed dead. Death is certain and death is immovable. When the young man entered death, it was his final step. When death takes hold of a person, there is no return, no going back, no appeal, no argument. Death is the end and it has the last word. And in our Scripture passage we see that it has spoken on the life of the only son of a widow in Nain.

However, coming to meet the procession headed by death is the procession headed by Jesus. Jesus also came to have the last word. Jesus is life Himself and He came that people should have life and have it to the full.

What will happen when these two processions meet at the town gate of Nain? Will it be the procession headed by Jesus or will it be the procession headed by the coffin and the corpse that gives way?

Adrian Dieleman, Don't Cry
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7.     Don't Deny the Existence of Trouble 

Any daily newspaper recounts tragic story after story of premature deaths, fractured relationships, and broken dreams. Indeed, we need not turn to any newspaper for an accounting of the world's troubles and sorrows. We have only to look at our own friends and neighbors and families. We have only to look into our own lives and hearts. Jesus, the healer and power-giver, never insulted people by telling them their problems weren't real. He never told the sick they were never really sick or that their illness had no pain or reality. He never told people that death wasn't real, nor did he offer this widowed mother Pollyannaish pabulum to soothe her grieving heart.

I am reminded of a friend of mine living in Indiana where tornadoes are frequent. His young son had a special fear of storms. One day, when a storm threatened, the father took his son to the front of their lovely, substantial home, pointed out across the neighborhood, and said to the boy, "There, you see everything is okay. These are solid homes and we are safe and dry in them." About that time a tornado touched down a block away and utterly destroyed several of these "substantial" homes. The storms of the natural world are real just as are the storms of the spiritual, psychological world. Trouble and tragedy are real. Evil and death are real. Jesus never said to his disciples on the stormy Sea of Galilee, "This is no storm. The storm is in your mind." He never said that. Instead he said to the storm, "Peace, be still." And it was. Are you out of a job? Did your home decline in value? Are your financial resources dwindling? Do you have a serious illness? Is your marriage not right? Is there a real problem with the children? Are you enslaved in a debilitating habit? Then don't deny it, says Jesus. The widow never said her son wasn't dead. Admit the problems. Don't deny them.

Maurice A. Fetty, The Divine Advocacy, CSS Publishing Company
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8.     We Are in the Middle of It 

Years ago a man was traveling by ship with his young daughter across the ocean. Earlier that particular Sunday he had preached a sermon about God's love. It had been a very difficult service to preach, because he was newly widowed.  

He was standing against the rail of the ship, looking out at the vast and magnificent ocean, when his daughter asked him if God loved them as much as they had loved her late mother.

"Of course He does," answered her father. "There is absolutely nothing bigger or more powerful and all-consuming than God's love for us. It's the biggest thing there is!" The little girl pressed on for more information, wanting to know exactly how big God's love was. Finally her father with great tenderness said, "Well, look across the sea as far as you can. Look up and down and all around. God's love stretches around to cover all of that; above the blue sky and deeper than the deepest part of the ocean underneath us." 

The little girl pondered for a minute and replied, "And to think Daddy, we're right in the middle of it." And we are. We're right in the middle of God's love. We don't need a miracle to tell us that. Most of us have known God's love all our lives. Of course, that is not to say that miracles do not occur. They do--to the eyes of faith.

 King Duncan
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9.     The Widow of Nain 

Christ said, 'Weep Not,' but still she went on weeping
he mother thus, how will the son obey?
'Young Man, arise;' lo! From the bier up-leaping,
The Dead proved quicker than the quick that day. 

Anonymous, Poets' Life of Christ, compiled by Norman Ault
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10.  Who Jesus Raised to Life 

If you ask most Christians who Jesus raised to life, the most common response you would get would be "Lazarus." How could we miss the story of the raising of the brother of Mary and Martha? The three days in the tomb caused the sisters to warn Jesus that Lazarus would "stinketh." What a great word, "stinketh"! It sounds like something you would say about a high school locker room after a big basketball game. The resurrection story found in the chapter 11 of the Gospel of John is THE story that springs to mind when we talk about the incredible power of Jesus even over the minions of death. But here in chapter 7 of Luke, we have another miraculous resurrection of an individual without much fanfare or comment: a miracle that ranks right up there with walking on water and bringing sight to the blind, but which gets less than exciting press coverage. I have a feeling that we tend to leave it alone because we get embarrassed by it.

You see, this is a miracle without much explanation or theological intrigue. It happens so quickly that we read it, swallow hard and move on.  

Alexander H. Wales, The Chain Of Command, CSS Publishing ____________________________
11.  The Price of Mourning

 The home of Paul Laurence Dunbar, noted poet, is open to the public in Dayton, Ohio. When Dunbar died, his mother left his room exactly as it was on the day of his death. At the desk of this brilliant man was his final poem, handwritten on a pad.

After his mother died, her friends discovered that Paul Laurence Dunbar's last poem had been lost forever. Because his mother had made his room into a shrine and not moved anything, the sun had bleached the ink in which the poem was written until it was invisible. The poem was gone.  

If we stay in mourning, we lose much of life.

 Henry Simon
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Fr. Jude Botelho:

The first reading describes one of Elijah’s miracles, namely raising the dead child of the widow of Zarephath. Without debating whether the child was dead or not there is certainly a deep truth behind it, namely, that God is master over death. Like many of us the widow believes that misfortune is a punishment for sin, a belief that Jesus came to shatter. The widow learns that God’s word in the prophet’s mouth is truth, it does what it says and is life-giving! Through the prophet God visits his people.

“Look, he’s moving!”
Three friends from the local congregation were asked, “When you are in your casket and friends and congregation members are mourning over you, what would you like them to say?” Artie said: “I would like them to say I was a wonderful husband, a spiritual leader and a great family man.” Eugene commented: “I would like them to say I was a wonderful teacher and servant of God who made a huge difference in people’s lives. Al said: “I’d like them to say, ‘Look, he’s moving!’”
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

In today’s gospel, Jesus goes to Nain, where a widow’s dead son is being carried for his burial. Imagine the scene: a mother grieving the death of a son, without the comfort and support of her husband. Understand her sorrow as she is deprived of the support and protection of husband or son. All hope lay dead in the coffin. Jesus comes forward. He cannot pass by. He intervenes. Jesus feels compassion for the widow and consoles her: “Do not cry!” He touches the coffin and with one word life is restored. He resuscitates the dead youth and hands him over to his mother. Jesus didn’t just offer a word of sympathy to the widow; he intervened in what had happened to her and her son. He brought the kingdom of heaven into the lives of these two people, and all those gathered around to witness this amazing miracle. In so doing Jesus showed them all what God was like, and what Jesus is all about. No wonder the people felt: “God has visited his people.” Today, God continues to visit us through His word in the Bible and through the sacraments –especially the Eucharist. Do we recognize him? Imagine how it would feel to be that woman, or to be witness to that powerful act of compassion. Or even imagine ourselves to be one restored to life. What would we want to do? At every Eucharist, as we celebrate the dying and rising of Jesus, God and the Church invites us to experience our own lives being restored. Rejoice! You are made alive by Him!

An experience of Resurrection
Raising the young man from the dead and returning him to his powerless widowed mother was Jesus’ most forceful way of teaching that evil and sinfulness do not win out in this imperfect world. He was pronouncing that love and kindness and peacefulness are, in the last analysis, the greatest strengths in the human condition, and that violence and hatred and spitefulness are the weapons of fools. The wisdom of the world often seems to proclaim just the opposite. Human beings cry out: “If you are too thoughtful, people will walk all over you.” An old saying constantly advises us. “Fight fire with fire.” Even a certain spirit of athletes tells us, “Nice guys don’t win ball games.” The widow’s experience speaks of a different reality. There is no way to prove conclusively that life triumphs over death, that good triumphs over evil, that nonviolence triumphs over violence. We simply must take Jesus’ word for it. Jesus promised to empower the powerless, to give hope to those who have no hope. I would wager that, from the time of the miracle, the widow was one of the most optimistic people of Nain!
Eugene Lauer in ‘Sunday Morning insights’

Personal Resurrection
Darryl Stinger was a wide receiver for the New England patriots in the 1970s. He was hit in a game with the Oakland Raiders and left paralyzed from chest down. Today he can only use one hand and gets around in an electric wheelchair. Darryl insists that in some ways his life is better now. Looking back at his pro football days, he says, “I had tunnel vision. All I wanted was to be the best athlete I could, and a lot of things were overlooked. Now I have come back to them. This is a rebirth for me… I really have a lot more meaning and purpose to live for now.” Those are incredible words from a young man whose dreams of stardom lie buried in an electric wheelchair. But you hear similar things from others who have suffered similar tragedies. They all talk about a personal ‘resurrection’ to new life. They also testify to the central mystery of our faith. Jesus is risen, alive and active in people’s lives today.
Mark Link in ‘Journey’

The Miracle!
A movie director could hardly create a more dramatic scene than the one in today’s gospel. But let’s imagine the scene fades and another takes its place. It’s night fall and we’re inside the town of Nain. The public square is jammed with people celebrating and talking about the miracle. One old man says to another: “How do you explain what happened today? Why did Jesus work that miracle? Was it only because he pitied the widow?” The other man pauses a moment and says: “No, I think there is more to it than that. I think we have to see this miracle alongside the other miracles of Jesus restoring health to the sick, sight to the blind, and healing to the deaf. Remember what the prophet Isaiah said? He said that certain signs would announce the arrival of God’s kingdom and the Messiah. I think Jesus’ miracle today is another sign that God’s kingdom has arrived and that Jesus is the promised Messiah.”
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’

Compassion

At a retreat for peace, conducted in Los Angeles by Thick Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk, some American veterans of the War were invited to attend and share their stories. A veteran told how one day during the war he captured a young Vietnamese soldier. With his hands clasped on his head, the Vietnamese soldier captive fell down on his knees and crawled. Moved by the look of absolute terror in his enemy’s eyes, the American soldier began to ask him questions through an interpreter: “How old are you?” “Nineteen.” “So am I.” “What do you do?” “I’m a student.” “So am I.” “Do you have a girlfriend?” “Yes” “So do I.” Then reaching into his haversack, the young American pulled out a tin of beans, gave it to his enemy and let him go. At first the Vietnamese ran as fast as he could, zigzagging back and forth for fear he would be shot in the back. Then suddenly he turned, raised the tin of beans high over his head, bowed a deep bow and disappeared into the jungle. For this Vietnamese soldier a tin of beans was a feast to be shared. From that day on the young American soldier marched with his gun turned down.” –Everyday there may be an opportunity to show compassion in action. Do I look for them?
Gerard Fuller in ‘Stories for All Seasons’

The Widow of Nain

If healing is understood in antiquity as the restoration of meaning to life, then whose life has had greater meaning restored to in this story? Contemporary Western individuals who have had a ‘near death’ experience and were then resuscitated, or ‘restored to life’ recount their disappointment in returning to ‘this world.’ While we cannot validly apply these experiences to antiquity, it would seem that the young man restored to life was restored to a comfortably secure male existence in a Mediterranean culture. The widowed mother, on the other hand, who lost her son, lost everything of value in her world. Even her life lost meaning. To have her son restored by Jesus is to have been given a new lease of meaningful life in that world. For all the good that science has bestowed upon us, it has often robbed us of the ability to see dimensions of life such as those presented in this gospel story. Which ‘dead’ person has been restored to life in this story? What do you think?”
John Pilch in ‘The Cultural World of Jesus’


A widow’s wonderful deliverance

In the winter of 1855, in Iowa, the snow fell early in November. The storm was such that neither man nor beast could move against it. In a log cabin, six miles from her nearest relative, lived a widow with five children. The supply of food was over, and as usual, the woman called the little ones around her to hear the Scriptures before commending them to the Heavenly Father’s care. Then bowing in prayer, she pleaded that help from God might come. Believing in the firm promises of God, she went to bed, without any care or fear for the morrow. Next morning, just as she went to the kitchen a man in a sleigh drove up to her house and enquired how they were getting along. In a short time he was told something of their destitution and of her cry to God for help. He replied, “Last night, about nine o’clock, my wife and I were both impressed that you were in need. Spending almost a sleepless night, I hastened at early dawn, to come and enquire about the case.” Then, taking from the sleigh, he handed over bread, meat and groceries to the mother to prepare breakfast for the kids. The stranger had never been in that house before, nor had he ever showed any interest in that woman, but he ever afterwards proved a friend indeed.
John Rose in 'John’s Sunday Homilies’


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Fr. Tony's Collection of Stories:

# 1: No Bible for his Presidential inauguration: Did you know that the first president of the United States to refuse to use the Bible at his inauguration was Franklin Pierce, the 14th President? The reason is rather interesting. When Pierce had been elected, he and Mrs. Pierce and their son, two weeks before the inauguration, were taking a trip to Concord, New Hampshire, and, of course, they were doing it by train. The train had not gone far out of the Concord Station, when there was a lurch, a jolt, and the car the Pierces were in tumbled off the tracks and down an embankment. Neither the president nor his wife was injured in the accident, but their son was killed. Franklin Pierce brooded over this, as would most of us. He asked the question of God that so many of us would have asked. Why would God at this moment of triumph permit this tragedy in their lives? He was so upset by this that he refused to allow the Bible to be used at the inauguration. [People (February 6, 1989), pp. 47-51.] Today’s gospel story describes how Jesus transforms the despair and sorrow of a widow by raising her only son from death. 

# 2: "I still have arthritis. But it doesn't have me!"  For years, Byron Janis, proclaimed as one of the world's great piano virtuosos, has been fighting the effects of crippling psoriatic arthritis. His struggle, though offering no easy answers, is inspiring. He could not  make a fist. The right wrist's motion was limited to 40%. The little finger on the left hand was numb, partially paralyzed and scarred from a childhood accident. The joints of the other nine fingers are fused. There is mobility in only one distal joint, that of the middle finger of the left hand. "Learning to live with pain," he says, "or live with a limitation can give an intensity to life. I thought I had nothing. Now I know I have everything. I'm saying to others, 'If I can do it, so can you!'" Janis lists the various means he tried, seeking help for his condition, ranging from medical doctors to acupuncturists, but adds, "What helped me most, I can't explain. I developed a very personal relationship with God. I think prayer is important. I think the belief in God is healing." "No one knows what it's like for other people, but I know that, unless I found a belief in God, I would never have been able to say what I have to say. God works with man and man with God. Not one alone." "I still have arthritis. But it doesn't have me!"  That is the testimony of countless others. I have problems but they don't have me. Why? Because there is One who sees and understands and is able to meet my every need. The example is seen in today’s gospel. 

# 3:  “That crypt’s got the most lipstick on it.”  Frances Jerz, sixty-five, lost her husband. She told columnist Roger Simon of the Chicago Sun-Times that even after three years, she still cries. Mr. Jerz had been a machine operator and was approaching retirement when he succumbed to cancer. Every Sunday Mrs. Jerz gets dressed up like he’s there in the house with her. Her daughter drives her to the cemetery. She touches the stone and she feels like he’s close to her. “That crypt’s got the most lipstick on it,” she says. “I kiss it every time I’m there.” [James C. Hefley, Life Changes (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1984), p. 97.] Some of you can relate to her pain. Some people have a terrible time dealing with the loss of a spouse. Life comes to a grinding halt. That's what happened to the widow in today’s gospel who lost her only son in death.
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Michel de Verteuil
General Textual comments
The only active person is Jesus, so that the passage invites us to “fix our eyes on him” (Hebrews 12:2). The story lays stress on his compassion (verse 13) as the source of his power to bring the man back to life. Note that the object of Jesus’ compassion is not the dead man but the mother.
 The mother was a widow and this was her only son. She is therefore a symbol of the totally defenseless person; all her sources of security have been lost.
 The bearers are those who are taking someone out for burial when in fact he can still be restored to life through the power of compassion.
 The crowd, referred to in the passage as “everyone”, are people in general who experience the presence of God through the work of Jesus.
 
Scripture Prayer
poorLord, so often we write off people;
– alcoholics and drug addicts;
– delinquent children;
– vagrants and those we call unemployable.
We thank you for the times that you sent Jesus into our town
accompanied by his disciples and a large number of people:
– Alcoholics Anonymous
– the Vincent de Paul Society
– communities such as L’Arche,
Emmanuel, Living Water and Zion communities ;
– those who work in rehabilitation centers.
Strong in their compassion they made us stand still,
got those whom we were carrying out for burial to stand up
and begin to speak for themselves, and gave them back to their mothers
so that we were filled with awe and praised you for having visited your people.
broken heart
Lord, there is a lot of despair in many countries today.
There was a time when these people dreamt of better days
and a new world they would create.
Today, like the widow in the gospel story,
they are seeing these dreams being carried out for burial.
We pray that your Church, like Jesus, may feel compassion for these people
and give them back their hopes for a glorious future.
“It strikes me that the reason why the world is not very much interested in the Church is essentially because the Church is not really interested in Christ.” … A priest at the Annual Conference of Priests of England and Wales
Lord, we sometimes feel that the Church is losing its influence in the world
and we conclude that we need more TV programs, more learned teaching,
or more organizations.
But if people see the Church living the story of Jesus, going into towns,
feeling compassion for those who mourn, telling them not to cry,
and giving them back their reason for living,
then they will be filled with awe,
they will know that a great prophet has appeared among them,
and this opinion of the Church will spread throughout the towns
and all over the countryside.
“All over the world I have found small groups who are building a new world in the shell of the one crumbling around us.”     …Maisie Ward
Lord, there are many things happening in the world today
That fill us with apprehension:
– thousands of abortions carried out every day;
– famine alongside an abundance of food;
– children dying of disease even though medicines are available.
It is as if our civilization is being carried out for burial.
Yet if we look closely we will see that Jesus is alive,
Accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people
Cn leadrersWho are not his disciples but live according to his values:
– organizations like OXFAM that are always there to provide relief in disaster areas;
– the co-operative movement;
– Amnesty International protecting the rights of those jailed unjustly.
They are putting their hands on the bier so that the bearers stand still.
They are giving life back to our world.
Lord, we pray for political leaders.
They very easily become isolated from people
as they get caught up with problems at the national level.
We pray that like Jesus they may go into the towns and villages or their country,
together with great numbers of people who surround them,
and there see the little people who are weeping
at the loss of what was most precious to them,
and not only feel pity for them, but effectively bring joy back to their lives,
so that the country can feel blessed again.
Lord, when Jesus died on the cross humanity’s only hope was gone;
By raising him from the dead you told us not to cry and gave him back to us.
 Lord, we pray for countries that are experiencing violence
– Iraq, Turkey, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Israel.
So many of their young people are being carried out for burial.
Raise up among them people like Jesus who will stop the violence
and the young people will have reason to live again.
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Thomas O’Loughlin,
Introduction to the Celebration
jesus hopeWe look to Jesus as the Lord: he is the Son of the Father, the conqueror of death, who has visited us from on high to redeem us. In today’s gospel we see this in his raising a young man from the dead in Nain. We recall this incident from our memory of Jesus not because we expect miracles to happen like this every day, but because they remind us that the life Jesus gives us is not bounded by death. He gives us a new way of living in this world and the promise of the fullness of life with the Father in the world to come.

Gospel Note
This touching story of compassion for a widow who has lost her only son is found only in Luke. The miracle is not a demonstration of who he is or of miraculous powers as such: the divine power over life and death is only seen because it is called forth by human need. Mercy not powerThis is power as mercy, not power as might. The response is a series of confessions of faith: ‘A great prophet has arisen among us’ (see also Lk 1:76) and ‘God has visited his people’ (see also Lk 1:68). Taken together these statements are foundation stones of Luke’s christology. This then becomes fully visible in 7:22 in the answer Jesus gives to John the Baptist’s questions: the sick are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up … These are the kinds of ‘proof’ — not acts of cosmic retribution — that Jesus offers that he is the one ‘who is to come’. And in showing God’s power in this way, and the kind of messiah that God has sent, Jesus is giving us a very different ‘picture’ of God to that which many were expecting (including John the Baptist himself). So this miracle is both a ‘christology’ — telling us about how we should view the Anointed One — and a ‘theology’ – telling us how we should view the relationship of God to the creation.

Homily Notes
1. We can read the gospel today at two ways. First, we can read it as a miracle story and wonder whether we think likely that it could happen, or likely that it did happen. This is a concern of skeptics on the one hand who think all talk miracles is bunkum; and the concern of fundamentalists the other who want to be able to ‘prove the bible is true’ a: wrap the whole thing up in a neat little box. These two groups may thoroughly dislike one another, but they share many assumptions, not least of which is that there is little room for mystery: that sense that the fullness of the truth is greater than the sum of the facts and bits and pieces that know about. The second way of reading this gospel concentrates on what it tells us of the style of an encounter with the Christ: the lives of a sorrowful people are enhanced. Sorrow becomes joy, death becomes life, mourning has becomes dancing.
iSunny people
2. It is always easy to divide people into two groups and then see an opposition between them (e.g. those who can do, do: those who can’t, teach), but there are times when such groupings correspond closely with our experience. We meet people who are life-enhancers (people who bring joy and ease to their surroundings, who will help, who will listen, who will share knowledge, burdens, and sufferings) and we meet life diminishers (there is always a problem, they are always t busy with their own things to worry about others, and who when they leave after being with us we feel exhausted and ‘down’). Let us take that experience of these two types and ask this question: do we think of our encounter with God as one that is with a life-enhancer or a life-diminisher?
imaking new
3. It is both easy and common to imagine God as the ultimate life-diminisher: the killjoy, the moral keeper of tabs, the wrathful raw power. God becomes a projection of the worst qualities of human power and must be appeased and served in the most servile manner. All powerful, but also small minded, keeping track of little regulations and just waiting to pounce, and small-minded also in that if the rules are kept and the various ‘security tests’ passed, then we can escape!
4. But if a good person we meet is someone we would describe as a life-enhancer, then God who is goodness itself must be the ultimate life-enhancer! This we see, presented with gentleness and sympathy and compassion and mercy, in today’s gospel. Jesus would not gives signs or miracle when he visited Nazareth, as his authority as the Son was not there for display of power. But he did show his authority over life and death in Nain where suffering called forth his mercy.
5. Many people say they find it hard to believe in miracles. OK. However, we are often so battered by human meanness and encounters with life-diminishers that we find it hard to believe that there is ultimately goodness in the universe and that the encounter with God is an encounter with life-enhancement. Believing this — what we call ‘faith’ — is often more difficult than whether or not we think miracles can occur. So today we are called to look upon Jesus and restore our faith in the loving goodness of God. The God who in love created us, in love sends us the Christ, and who desires us to enjoy his love.
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3. Sean Goan
Gospel: 
Trinity FacesThis dramatic story highlights the compassion of Jesus, his power over death and the link between him and the great prophets who went before. During his ministry the people who saw and heard him did not see him as the early church would after the resurrection. Rather they used the categories they were familiar with to describe him and that meant seeing him as an Elijah type figure. This was high praise indeed but the true revelation of Jesus’ identity would only come later and would show him to be so much more than a prophet. He is the one who reveals the life giving compassion of God for a sinful, broken world.

Reflection
Widows and orphans appear a lot in the Old Testament because they represent potentially the most vulnerable and oppressed group in society. Without a husband or father to mind them they were subject to exploitation. Such a situation runs contrary to the plan of God revealed in the covenant and in Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom of God. In the Bible the compassion of God is not some disembodied ‘spiritual’ reality; it always shows itself in action on behalf of the most oppressed. When we gather for Mass we need to remind ourselves that we not only receive the Body of Christ but that we are called to be the Body of Christ – the compassion of God in the world.
God heals
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4. Donal Neary S.J.
Compassion gives life
Maybe there are two elements to this story about raising the son of a widow to life. It is a sign of the mission of Jesus and fits into the tradition of the prophets. nainIts source is Jesus'” compassion for a widow who has just lost her only son, so that she would not be totally on her own and without support, given that social welfare had not come to that area!
The compassion of Jesus here is so strong that life flows from it into a dead man. The compassion is for someone for whom there would now be little place in society and the fortunes of the widow in that time depended on the religious motivation of the people.
In the end the people were of course amazed, but their amazement brought them to Jesus. We might think that they would be mesmerised by the man raised from death, but their awe brought them to praise God for his great work.
Our ordinary life can bring us in touch with great goodness and spirituality in people, or to a depth of prayer and care for the poor. Through many such people, God is very near and real in the world, and so our praise can be directed to God as we thank these men and women for what they do.
Tsavedhe compassion that flowed from Jesus to bring life to a dead man can flow from us to enliven the lives of others. We can ‘grow’ this compassion in prayer. Our prayer with God if it is sincere will lead us into the mystery of being loved by God and called into love of others.
Teach us compassion O Lord,
for in our compassion for others,
we are doing your will.

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From the Connections:

THE WORD:

Jesus’ raising up of the widow’s son in the village of Nain appears only in Luke’s Gospel.  Luke refers to Jesus here as “Lord,” the First Testament Greek title for the Holy One who is Master of life and death.  This story underlines two key themes of Luke's Gospel: the extraordinary love and compassion of Jesus for the poor and destitute (throughout Scripture, widows are the epitome of need and despair) and Jesus as the great fulfillment of Israel’s Messianic hope when “the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy” (Isaiah 35: 5-6).
 
HOMILY THEMES:
Compassion is the ability to put oneself in the place of another: to see the world from their perspective, to see what scares them, to understand their fears, to embrace their pain.  The word compassion literally means “to suffer with.”  Today’s Gospel challenges us to be moved by Christ’s sense of compassion and forgiveness: to bring hope and healing to others, without condition or considering the cost, only because they are brothers and sisters of us in the same Father.
The heart of Jesus’ Gospel is that we have been created by God out of a love that defies our ability to imagine or comprehend — and that the person of Jesus is that very love incarnate.  God forms us in his love and continues to love us — despite our brokenness, our wrenching sense of unworthiness, our conviction that we are beyond his forgiveness.  

From a child’s vantage point
On a busy Saturday morning, Dad and his five-year-old son Martin made a bargain:  If Martin behaved himself while Dad ran some errands at the home improvement store, Dad would take Martin to a movie. 
Deal!
But the deal quickly fell apart.  Martin began to pout and whine as soon as he and Dad walked into the store, making it impossible for Dad to get anything done.
“I don’t think you’re holding up your end of the bargain, buddy,” Dad said.  “We had a deal.  Remember?”
The little boy nodded tearfully.
Dad noticed that Martin’s shoelaces had come undone and knelt down to tie them.  Martin sniffled and grasped the sleeve of his father’s sweatshirt, holding on.  While Dad was still on his knees, he noticed the chaos around them:  Shoppers nudged and pushed one another in an effort to get through the aisles; an hysterical mother called out for a lost child; a display of boxed items tumbled to the floor because a distracted customer wheeled a cart into it.  And poor Martin kept getting hit in the shoulders and head with purses and bags as people brushed passed him.
From that vantage point, Dad realized how overwhelming and terrifying all of this chaos was to a five-year-old.  He felt badly for not having been more sympathetic to his son’s plight and realized that Martin had been a champ in trying to brave his way through it all.
Shoes tied, Dad lifted up Martin and placed him on his shoulders.  “Hey, buddy, what do you say we get out of here and do this shopping some other time?”
“Are you sure, Daddy?” Martin asked, trying to gauge why the plan was changing.
“Yup.  Positive.  Let’s go to that movie.”
[Adapted from Seeds of Greatness by Denis Waitley.]

Compassion is the ability to put oneself in the place of someone like Martin: to see the world from their perspective, to see what scares them, to understand their fears, to embrace their pain.  One of the continuing themes of Luke’s Gospel is Jesus’ extraordinary compassion and love for the powerless and vulnerable.  Luke includes several such stories in his Gospel, stories which are not found in any of the other three Gospels.  When he meets the widow at Nain, Jesus is moved with compassion — he opens his heart to feel the poor woman’s anguish and connect with it.  The word compassion literally means “to suffer with.”  Compassion not only changes the person we feel for but changes us, as well.  We are called by Christ to recognize and reach out to those whom the world consciously and unconsciously dismiss as unimportant and marginal and welcome them into our midst as God’s own.  The Dominican theologian Meister Eckhart preached that “Whatever God does, the first outburst is always compassion.”