Sunday, June 5, 2016
He Raises The Living, Too
I have heard today’s Gospel, wherein Jesus raises the son of the widow, many times in the past. However, as often happens when I read and meditate on the reflections contained in the book The Better Part, this night I saw new insights.
The Gospel has Jesus coming upon a funeral procession of a widow’s only son. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. “Do not cry,” he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said: “Young man, I tell you to get up.” And the dead man sat up and he began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
The reflections in The Better Part led me to ponder on three points being taught in this Gospel. First, unlike many other miracles, no one asked Jesus to perform this one. He saw the woman’s tears and he felt sorry for her. The point for US is that in our deepest sorrows He is here for us also; we don’t have to ask either. We are never alone. But somehow in our deepest sorrows we often feel alone, as if no one cares. This Gospel is a reminder that Jesus cares --- and we don’t have to say a word. He’s there. He’s there to raise the living, too.
The second point of note to reflect upon in this short Gospel is that this was a very personal event for Jesus. This wasn’t just any person in a passing funeral. This woman was a widow; she had grieved over the loss of her husband, and now she was grieving the loss of her only son. This was a woman who felt very alone --- even as we sometimes do, but in this woman Jesus saw something special: In this widow He saw the grief of His own mother, Mary, a woman who had lost her husband and who would soon be a crying over the loss of her only son too, Jesus. I’m sure Jesus was struck, seeing this woman’s grief, that His own mother would soon feel this deep sorrow. How could He have not been moved? And once He saw this woman, and once He perceived His own mother’s wailing grief, how could He EVER forget? This is the basis for the Catholic Church’s call for us to pray to Mary, and to ask her to intercede with her Son for us. We may sometimes wonder if Jesus hears our prayers, but how could we doubt that He remembers the sorrows He caused His mother, and that He would therefore answer almost any of her requests of Him? At the heart of my praying the rosary each night is that certain knowledge.
And the final point of note in this Gospel is the one the author of The Better Part starts his reflections with. His first reflection on this Gospel looks at the big picture, why Christ The Lord of all creation chose to stress this particular action. Why did God do this thing and record it in the Gospel for the world? What is His message? And the author points out: Jesus commands a dead man to rise, and he is obeyed. He shows us that He is the Lord of life. And yet, when He commands us, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,” or “Do not worry about tomorrow,” or “Follow me,” we resist. Does His lordship work only on the dead? I pondered and prayed over the implications of that for many minutes.
The author concludes this meditation with: Every word that Jesus speaks to us has the power to raise us up.
I’ve written before how much I like these reflections in The Better Part, and why I ensure every chapel and every close friend has a copy. You should get one too. I think it will help you hear Him --- especially when you feel alone.