“…When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her…”
Gospel: Luke 7: 11-17
11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12 As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man I say to you, arise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favourably on his people!” 17 This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
From his place among the crowd of disciples and many other followers, Jesus is attentive to another procession that includes a widow, the coffin containing the body of her only son, and the many people from the city of Nain who were with her. He touched the coffin, commanded the son to arise, and gave the son to his mother. The crowd proclaimed Jesus to be a great prophet in its midst, and recognized that they had witnessed the power of God.
Relating the Gospel to our lives today.
Why did Jesus decide to have compassion on this widow and her only son? And why did Luke feel it was important enough to be documented? If we read the passage again we can see there are some similarities between this story and the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The young man who died was his mother’s only son – as Jesus was Mary’s only son. The woman was a widow – Mary was also a widow by this point. Both stories end with the son no longer dead. This miracle was indeed a foreshadowing of Jesus’ own death and resurrection – but also of the compassion He would demonstrate to His own Mother (who would also become a childless widow) when on the Cross he entrusted her to John to take care of for the rest of her life.
This story also points out clearly the fact of Mary’s perpetual virginity. There are some non-Catholics who argue that Jesus had sibling’s – which is of course not true! – But how do we know this for sure?
Luke uses the Greek word “monogenes” meaning “only-begotten”. Jesus is also described as “monogenes” in John’s Gospel. Also, there was no social security in the time of Jesus. A widow would have relied solely on her children to provide for her. A childless widow would have had to beg for money and food. During the crucifixion, Jesus entrusted His disciple John to take care of Mary. Why would John have been asked to do this if there were biological siblings available to do the same job? If she had other children, she would not be able to devote herself 100% to Jesus (and to us). Her perpetual virginity is a commitment to us as much as anything. She truly is our Mother.
We can also see now why Jesus felt so moved with compassion for the widow in Nain. He recognized in her, what His own Mother would soon be facing.
- Do I know anyone who is old and lonely?
- How can I show compassion to this person?
- How do I want to be treated when I am old?
Help me to be compassion to those around me, as you were compassion to the widow at Nain. Help me to understand people’s circumstances without judging them. Help me to remember those who are lonely or have no family to care for them.
Thank You, I Love You Jesus, Amen.