Friday, June 3, 2016

Gospel text for Sunday 5 June 2016

Luke 1.11-17     Soon after healing the centurion's slave, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 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. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. 

Reflection        Jesus sees beyond the widow’s tears and external appearance of loss. He sees beyond the social condition that defines her as invisible. (A woman with neither husband nor son has no place in society) Jesus sees a deeper truth that rejects the social political narrative of his time in favor of a pastoral relationship with the widow. Jesus looks at the widow, truly sees her, allows himself to be touched by her situation (even makes himself ritually unclean by touching the dead man’s coffin), and Jesus loves her.  In the ineffable light of his love the widow is miraculously transformed, she receives new life.

Of course this raises difficult questions for us. Who in our world needs to be seen? Are we willing to look straight into the face of suffering and allow ourselves to be touched by it? How do we look with compassion at the widows and widowers, the lost , the lonely, the bereaved and the least among us? How shall we allow the transforming light of Christ to shine through us into the darkest moments of the sick, the elderly, the foreigners, the handicapped, the prisoners, and the strangers? How could we do better?

It is easy to stay hidden in the crowd, paying our respect, shuffling our feet, muttering platitudes; “Isn’t it awful. How could such a thing happen. The world has gone to hell in a hand-basket. Let me know if there is something I can do.” All the while our eyes are diverted and our hearts are sealed. 

The compassionate way of Jesus expects more. The compassionate way of Jesus expects us to look directly into the face and fullness of our neighbors' suffering. The compassionate way of Jesus expects us to be touched and affected by our neighbors’ suffering and loss. The compassionate way of Jesus expects us to see a deeper truth that rejects the social political narrative of our time in favor of loving relationships with anyone in our world who suffers. The compassionate way of Jesus expects us to reach out and touch our neighbors and make a difference in their lives.

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