This Gospel passage is interesting. It portrays a funeral march for the son of a widowed mother. The listeners would have remembered the story in the Book of Kings because Nain was only a ten-minute walk from where Elisha raised the son of a widowed mother.
So you have this mourning procession, filled with people who know the family but also people who were hired to wail and thrash about, lamenting the loss of such a young person and the tragedy of the widow who has no one to care for her.
You also feel the fear of death and the unclean. Virgil, the Roman poet, spoke about the ‘tears of things,’ that, “in the nature of things we live in a world of broken hearts.” This sounds all rather morose. Perhaps this is why our culture is afraid of the sick and the dead. Perhaps this is why we are afraid even of our own weaknesses or our children’s. Perhaps we have become fearful to touch the reality of human life and seize the moment of our sorrow in light of what we believe as Catholics.
Jesus was moved to the depths of His heart. He feels like any human being. He feels sad. He feels sorry for death. And so He stops the procession and He reaches out to the horror of the crowd and touches the body!
Amazing! That Jesus is so stirred with compassion that He reveals the Father’s tears for us when we are sad and sorry. Here is the Lord of Life, Victor over death, touching us and raising us up because He lives!
My friends, when we believe, we are not afraid of suffering and death, in fact we embrace it because God suffers with us and He is not dead! When we bring to this Altar ourweekly sins, when we place upon this paten our fears and sadness, the priest lifts it up and angels carry them to the Altar of God. We do this because God is the God of both the living and the dead. He reaches out to us through Jesus and touches the very part of us that we try to ignore, the ugly side, the weak side, the side that is afraid to fail.
Jesus is here now, reminding us never to be afraid of falling, never be afraid of suffering or of death. Be afraid of not standing up again, of not being reconciled with God or of not being prepared to take the next step in living.
Take time to reread the psalm we sung this morning, “Hear, O Lord, and have pity on me; O Lord, be my helper. You changed my mourning into dancing; O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks.”