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Raising of the widow’s son

Gospel Reading: Lk 7:11-17
Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.


From the raising of a widow’s only son emerge two basic questions about Jesus. What kind of understanding does the Israelite public have of him, and why do they think of him this way? The resuscitation of the young man requires Jesus’ compassionate involvement with this widow, but it also suggests the Old Testament ministries of Elijah and Elisha (cf 1 Kgs 17:17-24; 2 Kgs 4:8-37). As Jesus passes by the city, he encounters a funeral involving a widow, who has lost her only son. This detail is important, because in that culture a widow without children is alone and in need of protection. The Old Testament portrays widows and orphans as among the most helpless of people and uses the figure of mourning over the death of an only son as a sign of a painful loss (cf Jer 6:26; Am 8:10; Zec 12:10). The death probably took place that very day, since the Jews usually buried immediately. Jesus stops the procession and touches the burial plank. The touch renders him unclean (cf Nm 19:11), but it also expresses his compassionate concern. Jesus simply utters a word, and the dead man sits up. This is in contrast to Elijah, who stretched three times upon the corpse of the son of a widow in Zarephath (cf 1 Kgs 17:21), and Elisha, who likewise stretched himself twice over the dead body of the Shunammite woman’s son (cf 2 Kgs 4:34-35).

Sometimes the most effective ministry in assuaging the pain of others occurs in small acts of compassion.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.