1. 1Kings 17:17-24
2.Galatians 1:11-19
Gospel: Luke 7:11-17

                                        " Be compassionate"

Brothers and Sisters today we celebrate the 10th Sunday of year C ordinary time. From our readings today we hear the miracle of Jesus raising the widow's son at Nain, the miracle that actually can be compared to that of Elijah raising the son of the widow of Zarephath, which we have in today's first reading (1Kings 17:17-24). Let us note some differences between the two. Firstly, in Elijah's raising of the widow's son in Zarephtah, it was the woman who took initiative looking for Elijah to attend to her problem. In this context, it seems that there was some kind of solicitation or prayer. In the case of Jesus raising the widow's son at Nain, surprisingly the woman did not approach Jesus and no one else did it on her behalf. No form of prayer whatsoever was invoked. Secondly, in Elijah's raising of the widow's son in Zarephath, the woman had earlier proven her faith in the God of Elijah when her jar of meal and jug of oil were miraculously replenished. In the case of the widow of Nain, there was no evidence of faith whatsoever.

Thirdly, the widow in Zarephtah had done some good deed to the man of God. She had fed him and housed him. The widow of Nain had done no such good deeds that we know of. It is, therefore, easy to see why Elijah should perform a miracle for the widow of Zarephatah. However, in comparison we can challenge ourselves with this question that why did Jesus perform this miracle for the widow of Nain? The only plausible answer is that Jesus is simply being true to his nature as God, his nature to love unconditionally, especially those who are in most need of God's mercy.

At the time of Jesus life in Palestine was not easy, it was hard more especially for women. Social and economic life was male-dominated and women had to depend on their husbands as bread winners. In case if it happened that the woman's husband died, she became responsible for her well being as well as taking care of the siblings. Without a man to provide for her, a women was reduced to the status of a beggar. It is under this background that we can understand why the dying Jesus had to entrust his mother to his friend, John. As an only son, he was fulfilling his duty to provide for His mother. 

Nobody in traditional Jewish society was more pitiable than a widow who had lost her only son. This in fact was a double tragedy because she was invariable going to live out the rest of her days in abject poverty, sadness, and misery. By inviting  himself into the situation and turning it around, Jesus is making a statement that is not God's will for any human being to live in abject poverty and misery. In this context, Jesus is protesting against those societal norms, cultural practices and economic policies that discriminate against women on account of their gender. By reviving her son and giving him back to her, Jesus is re-empowering her and giving her back a reason to hold her head high in the community. By doing so Jesus is restoring to this woman her personal integrity, her honor and dignity, as well as her economic and social line that had been taken away by death. As he himself said, " I came that they may have life, and have it to the full" ( John 10:10).

We are being challenged by today's readings that if God has unconditional love for all of His children and Jesus came to give us all life and joy in abundance, why is it that some people's tears are wiped away but not those of others?  Like the widow of Nain, everyone of us is bereft of something that would elevate us to our full dignity as children of God, Physically, economically, socially and spiritually. Jesus does not like to see us live in misery and would like to turn our lives from sadness to Joy. Today, Jesus asks us to halt the funeral procession and give him a chance to work his miracles. This surely is an invitation to each one of us to give a room for Jesus to do something in our lives. Let us give God a chance to transform our lives.

Let us finish our reflection with this story, it happened that there was a group of salesmen who were on their way to a regional sales convention in Chicago. In the course of their rushing through the terminal,one of them accidentally kicked over a table which held display of apples. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plain in time for their nearly missed boarding. However a man suddenly felt compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been over turned. Thus he told his friends to go on without him, and explained he was taking a later flight. Then he returned to the place where apples were all over the terminal floor. He regretted for what he did to a girl who was selling apples. The 16-year -old girl was totally blind! The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples that were scattered all over the floor, put them back on the table and help to organize her display. As he did this, he also noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, " very sorry, please take this $40 for the damage we did." As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, " Mister......" He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, " ARE YOU JESUS?"

In case if you open the gospels, you can't miss seeing Jesus Christ as Man of compassion. Jesus showed compassion on the lepers, the crippled, the hungry, the deaf, the poor, the little children, and even His executioners. And, as we read in today's Gospel, Jesus empathized  with the poor bereaved widow whose only son died.

We learn from the story above that as Jesus followers, we should likewise have the spirit and act of compassion. We may not perform miracles as Jesus did but we can show compassion in various concrete ways. For instance, we can assist the needy. If you can give something like educational assistance, that would be more worthwhile. We can console the lonely and bereaved. To those weighed down with heavy problems, a listening ear might help un load their emotional burden.

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Chapisha Maoni