Submitted by Jan on Tue, 31/05/2016 – 09:23
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5
Year C (2015-2016)
Bible Book: Luke
Verse: 11 – 17
The story of Jesus raising the son of the widow of Nain only appears in the gospel of Luke. This gospel emphasises the heart of Jesus for the vulnerable and those on the margins of society; such as the poor, tax collectors, women, and children. Here it focuses on a widow, now made even more vulnerable because of the death of her only son.
I love the details given in these few short verses. It really paints the picture so vividly.
It is a picture of two large crowds approaching one another – one with Jesus as he nears the town, and the other with the widow as they come out of the town. The same word is used for ‘crowd’ in both instances, although different words are used to describe the size of the crowd. There does not however seem to be much difference – both speaks of ‘sizable’ or many or much – a large crowd on each side of the picture.
In between is Jesus, a weeping (wailing aloud) widow, the bearers, and a dead person. He sees the widow and has compassion on her – ‘his heart went out to her’. He simply tells her not to weep. Did a sudden silence descend over the scene – no more jabbering people, no more wailing? What is he going to do? Who is this?
Jesus goes to the coffin, only now does the bearers stop as he touches it. Everything seems to come to a standstill. He commands the young man (not a child) to get up. I love how his awakening from the dead is described – ‘he sat up and talked’ – was it the sure proof to everyone that he is really alive? Then the beautiful and moving scene of ‘giving him back to his mother’. I wonder how He did that? But it must have been intimate – He got close to her.
The crowds were filled or seized with awe or fear. The silence is broken by their praises to God. What a picture.
Psalm 146 is also a reading for this week. Verse 9 speaks about how God ‘sustains the fatherless and the widow’ – this miracle show Him doing exactly that. The story of Elijah raising the son of the widow is another reading, and it is similar (1 Kings 17:8-24).Here however, Jesus responded to a heartbroken woman and raises her son from the dead in public, while Elijah took the dead boy to his room and gave him back to her in the privacy of her home.
There is much in this story that speaks to us on how Jesus related to the woman and showed active compassion. Not only did he see her and have compassion, but He acted and gave her son back to her.
Could it also be speaking to us on how we respond someone in need in a public setting? Will we allow the Spirit to help us really see the person, and to respond to His prompting on how to act or what to do? Or will we distance ourselves, stay in the crowd?
Lord Jesus please give us your eyes; your heart for the broken and marginalised, for everyone.
To think about: Should I happen upon a person in emotional need in a public space will I even be aware of the person, and how will I handle it?
Written By: Hannes Mentz, Coordinator – Church Response to HIV and AIDS, Soul Action South Africa and trained ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator.
Author: Mentz H (Mr)