by: Br. George Diones [cjm]
Last week’s Gospel we heard about the healing of the Centurion’s servant. We saw how Jesus was struck with amazement as He saw the Centurion’s faith in action. The Centurion cared for his beloved servant and longed to see him well again. And now we move on to the account of the raising of the widow’s son at Nain. In the account of the Centurion’s servant, the afflicted was dear to his master; in this account, the dead young man is the widow’s only son – her only means of support and protection in a patriarchal society. This account is recorded only in Saint Luke’s gospel and shows the Evangelist’s special delight in portraying Jesus not only overwhelmed with pity at the sight of tragedy but also as turning with kindly regard toward women.
In those days if you are a widow your only hope is your son and if he died, the widow would be left alone and destitute. I would like to point out two elements here. First, Jesus shows his great compassion to the widow. It was mentioned in the Gospel that Jesus was “moved with pity” when He met the widow and a crowded funeral procession on their way to the cemetery. Jesus not only grieved the untimely death of a young man but he showed also the depth of his concern for the woman who lost her only son. During those days, the widows were dependent to the support, protection and companionship of their son. The woman in our Gospel today had lost not only her loved ones but her future security and livelihood as well. Jesus doesn’t want to leave the woman in destitute so He raised the young man to life again. Second, the relationship between a mother and son, broken by death, is restored by Jesus. Jesus calls the young man to life and returns to his mother. The whole scene is a foretaste of what will happen when the Lord returns and we are reunited with our loved ones who have gone to glory. We know that Jesus calls us to the fullness of life; a life stronger than death.
In the whole account of the Gospel, Jesus showed his mercy and compassion to the marginalized, the needy, the oppressed, the poor, the widow, the crippled and to all those who are less fortunate in the society. We too, as followers of Christ are called to be merciful and compassionate to those who are in need and to those who are suffering. Pope Francis in his Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” reminds us to avoid judging and imposing rules on those families who are undergoing struggles but instead to help them make good decisions. The Pope further said “it is our goal to help families and everyone should experience God’s love and they should know that they are welcome members of the Church.” Sometimes we treat them as if they are excommunicated from the Church; we add to the burden that they are suffering in life. We know that these families do not want also to experience the burden that they are suffering. They did not will it and they do not want it to happen to them.
So let us help one another, let us help those families in our community who are experiencing marital problems, and let us extend our mercy and compassion of God as Jesus did to the widow in today’s Gospel. Let us be good brothers and sisters to them and we may be willing to help them in their sufferings so that they may experience the ‘joy of love.’