18th Sunday after Pentecost
In today’s Holy Gospel we hear the account of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain. Christ and His disciples and a large crowd of followers were traveling from one city to the next and, as they approached the city of Nain, their path crossed with a funeral procession. A young man, the only son of a widowed mother, had died and the dead man was being carried out for burial. When our Lord saw this scene, His heart was filled with compassion for the grieving mother and He approached her and said, ‘Do not weep.’
Then He touched the coffin of the deceased and said to Him, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ Immediately, the young man was revived and sat up and began speaking. The shock and consolation and joy of the mother must have been indescribable!
What are we to learn from today’s Gospel reading?
Well, the first thing that strikes us is the love and compassion of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Here was our Lord, traveling along on His important mission of preaching, surrounded by a large crowd of His disciples and followers – and He notices and His heart is moved by the scene of this little funeral procession and the tears of the mother who is now alone without a husband or son to care for her.
This is a marvelous thing and an example to us… Christ our Lord is going about His mission and yet He remains attuned to and aware of the many specific occasions where compassion and mercy may be shown. He notices things… He sees the needs of another, and He stops to extend His compassion.
How many times do we see in the Holy Gospel the manifestation of the compassion Christ? Our Lord’s entire earthly ministry was filled with demonstrations of this practical and heartfelt compassion for people. Christ not only raised the dead, but He spent great time and great care in visiting and healing the sick, the lepers, the lame, and the downtrodden. No-one was insignificant to our Lord.
Today’s Gospel also shows us the tremendous power and authority of Jesus Christ. Let us make no mistake and let us never doubt the life-giving creative power of Jesus Christ. Our Lord, in His earthly ministry He not only healed the sick, but on several occasions we see Him calling back to life those that had died. This should surely come as no surprise, that Christ, Who is God, can heal the sick and raise the dead, for He is the source of all life and Creator of the heavens and the earth.
We see in this Gospel scene of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain, the power and authority of Christ, as well as the love and compassion of Christ.
St Isaac the Syrian said, ‘Do not fear God because of the greatness of His majesty, but fear Him because of the greatness of His love.’
This is a very profound statement… ‘Do not fear God because of the greatness of His majesty, but fear Him because of the greatness of His love.’
It is true that God is above all, that He reigns in majesty, that our very breath and the sustenance of the world is dependent upon His divine providence. He is absolutely worthy of our awe and trepidation. We stand in His presence and gaze into the abyss of infinity and we fear because we are unworthy to look upon the height of His majesty.
But there is something so much more intimate happening in God’s relationship with mankind. When we realize the life-giving power and authority of God it emphasizes to us the extreme humility and compassion of God that He cares for us. That He would deign to become incarnate and submit Himself to an earthly existence and even to suffering and death at the hands of those whom He created. He Who is the source of life itself, willed to submit to death - for us. This is the greatest miracle… not that Christ can raise the dead, but that He submitted Himself to death for our sake – thereby trampling down death by death, unlocking the gates of hades, and bestowing life to all who would receive it.
This is the overwhelming greatness of the love of God!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, our fear of God should transcend beyond the trembling before His majesty… We must fear the possibility of ignoring or betraying the love which God extends to us. This is the true fear of the Lord! That we understand His intimate and loving compassion and patience for us and yet we fall short of valuing and holding this treasure of God’s love.
Christ said if you love Me, you will keep My commandments. Let each of us strive to love God above all else and to do our best to keep His commandments – not out of slavish obligation, but out of gratitude and enthusiastic love for the One Who has loved us. And let us take today’s lesson from the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who stopped to notice the sorrow of another and raised the son of the widow of Nain. May we also remove the blinders of our own preoccupations and take notice of one another. Attuning ourselves to the needs of those who may be right before us and extending that heart of compassion and love where it may be needed.