Vol.5 No.39 Luke 7: 7-17June 5, 2016
By Claire Sapp
Do Not Weep
How wonderful our Gospel is this week. It is a story about power and compassion. One of many miracles described by Luke but a truly uplifting event that was part of Jesus’s ministry in Galilee. Last week we heard about the miracle of the loaves and fish. That miracle appears in all four gospels. It is an example of Jesus taking care not just of spiritual needs but also of physical needs and was described so well by Anna in her commentary. If you did not hear it make sure you take the time to read it. This week we hear about the widow’s son being raised from the dead and it is found only in Luke’s gospel. How wonderful that Jesus revealed himself and in this instance in such an open way.
Jesus has journeyed to Nain which is a place in Galilee south of Mount Tabor. He is accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. When he approaches the city gate he sees a funeral procession. A widow (who is also accompanied by a large crowd) is processing with the body of her son presumably to bury him. Jesus could have watched and prayed quietly for the dead son, but He did not. He told the widow: “Do not weep.”! Can you imagine visiting a woman who has lost her husband and who is burying her only son and telling her not to weep? Besides losing her loved one she would be facing a life relying on other people’s charity because the husband and son would have been the providers in Jesus’ time. A sad occurence on many levels. I wonder what the widow thought when Jesus told her not to weep. She surely had no idea of what was coming next.
And perhaps symbolizing how personal Jesus is, he touched the coffin and told the dead man to rise and then the young man sat up and began speaking. Jesus gave the only son back to his widowed Mother. What a joyful thing, but also shocking. The next line is very interesting and maybe not surprising because they had just witnessed someone raised from the dead…”Fear seized them”. I wonder what my reaction would be if I saw someone raised from the dead…and I am sure that fear would be a factor but I hope that I would also glorify God as the crowd did. They had fear but they also glorified God and the report of this miracle spread throughout Judea. This is a story of the power of God but also of the compassion of Christ who loves us and who Himself died and was resurrected for us. Jesus told the grieving widow not to weep. The love of the Father always sustains through trials and sorrows and life events that are sometimes hard to fathom. Spiritually we should not weep because God is always with us and we should trust in Him. And on a physical level Jesus was going to raise her son and eradicate her sorrow by giving back her son. How wonderful!
And in the first reading this Sunday Elijah also raises a widow’s son from the dead. While Elijah was at the widow’s house her son falls ill and dies. She asks Elijah why he has done this to her and she asks if he has come to call attention to her guilt? Elijah calls to the Lord and asks that the life breath return to the body of this child and the Lord heard Elijah’s prayer and restored the son to life. Despite our guilt the Lord has compassion for us. Do not weep.
The raising of the widow’s son in Luke is not the only time that Jesus raised someone from the dead in the gospels either. We also have the story of Lazarus (which appears in the gospel of John) and Jarius’ daughter (which appears in Mark, Matthew, and Luke) being raised from the dead. These instances all show the power of God and lay the groundwork for what will follow all too soon in Jesus’ life…His death and resurrection.
Jesus proved his love for us through his passion and resurrection, but this story also proves how powerful and compassionate He is. Taking care of us not just spiritually but also physically. As we strive to emulate his life we should show compassion to all we meet. No matter the calamities or frustrations we entail, we should not weep. And we can go a step farther, we should bring Christian joy to all we meet. Mother Theresa said: “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” So if you ever feel down or burdened remember the compassion that Jesus had for the widow and that he had for all of mankind. We live in interesting times and the news and our culture can sometimes be quite bizarre but just remember the words of Jesus to the widow: “Do not weep.”