Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Little Something Extra...Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fifteen Facts about Today's Gospel: Luke 7:11-17

1. Today's Gospel story occurred in the little village of Nain in Galilee not too far from Capernaum. This is the only time Nain is mentioned in the Bible, so it was probably an obscure little place where normal people lived their everyday lives. Yet it was also the scene of an amazing miracle. 

2. The death of a widow's only son was a horrible calamity. Not only did the mother lose a beloved child, but without him to care for her, she would be left destitute. Widows in Israel had no way to earn a living. Without a husband, son, father, or brother, they could only beg and/or rely upon meager public support if and when it was available. 

3. Jesus took the initiative here. He approached the widow and her deceased son. He saw the widow's grief and fear, took pity on her, and performed the miracle. No one asked Him to do it. God sees His children's needs and reaches into their lives.

4. The widow, the coffin bearers, and the citizens of Nain probably did not know who Jesus was when He approached them. They must have been extremely surprised when He told the widow, “Do not weep.” 

5. Jesus stopped the coffin bearers with a single touch of the coffin. He must have exuded great authority, for they obeyed immediately.

6. Jesus raised the widow's son from the dead with a firm command: “Young man, I tell you, arise!” In Greek the words are “Neaniske, soi legō egerthēti.” Neaniske typically refers to a man not yet forty years old. The verb legō means “I say” and indicates Jesus' personal involvement. This miracle could happen only because Jesus said so, because He commanded it. The verb egerthēti is imperative. It is a direct order. Further, it is in passive tense, which means that instead of “Arise!” it should be translated “Be raised up!” The young man was not rising up on his own power but by God's power. 

7. The effect was immediate. The young man sat up and began to speak. St. Luke does not record what he said. Perhaps it didn't matter; he was alive and talking. He had returned from the dead.

8. Jesus gave the son to his mother. The verb used here, didōmi, points to a freely bestowed gift. Jesus did not have to raise this man from the dead. He did not have to give a mother back her son. Yet He freely and graciously chose to do so.

9. The crowd was seized with fear when they saw what Jesus had done. They had just witnessed an event that was humanly impossible. The young man was definitely dead, and now he was definitely alive. 

10. In the face of such a miracle, there was only one thing to do, and the crowd did it. They glorified God. They recognized His hand at work. 

11. The crowd, however, misidentified Jesus, thinking Him to be a great prophet, but they also exclaimed, “God has visited His people!” Little did they know how right they were. 

12. Word of what Jesus had done spread quickly and widely throughout all of Israel. Jesus was becoming famous, but that wasn't what He wanted. His performed miracles to show God's great love for His people, to prove that the Kingdom of Heaven was indeed at hand, and to indicate that He was the long-awaited Messiah.

13. Today's First Reading from 1 Kings 17:17-24 foreshadows the Gospel, for in it, the prophet Elijah also raised a widow's son from the dead. The stories have many similarities but also many differences, for Jesus is far, far more powerful than Elijah ever was. 

14. Today's Responsorial Psalm from Psalm 30 allows God's people to respond with joy to the miracles described in the Gospel and the First Reading, for it lifts God up in praise and acknowledges that He has rescued His faithful ones from the netherworld. 

15. Jesus Christ suffered, died, and rose again to save His people from death, not physical death, for everyone will die, but spiritual death, that separation from God for all eternity that is often called hell. Through God's grace, those with a living faith in Jesus Christ will not experience that spiritual death but will live forever with Him in Heaven. That is the greatest miracle of all. 

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