Suffering must be taken seriously
Jesus arrives in Nain while the small village is experiencing a very sad event. Jesus is traveling, accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. A funeral cortege headed to the cemetery comes out of the village. A mother who is also a widow, accompanied by her neighbors, is on her way to bury her only son. In a few words, Luke has described to us the woman’s tragic situation. She is a widow, without a husband to care for her and protect her in that male-dominated society. She was left with an only a son, but he too has just died. The woman says nothing. She just grieves tearfully. What will become of her?
The meeting was unexpected. Jesus came to announce God’s Good News in Naim also. How will she react? According to the account, “the Lord saw her, was moved with pity for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’.” It is hard to find a better description of the Prophet of God’s compassion.
He does not know the woman, but he looks at length at her. He thoroughly understands her sorrow and loneliness, and he is deeply moved. That woman’s dejection reaches into the depths of his being. His reaction is immediate: “Do not weep.” Jesus cannot bear to see anyone cry. He has to intervene.
He does not think twice. He goes near the coffin, stops the funeral and says to the dead person: “Young man, I tell you, arise!” When he sits up and begins to speak, Jesus “gives him to his mother” so that she may stop crying. They are together again. The mother will no longer be alone.
Everything seems simple. The account does not dwell on the miraculous aspect of what Jesus has just done. It invites its readers to see in him God’s self-revelation as the Mystery of compassion and the Power of life, capable of saving even from death. It is God’s compassion that makes Jesus’ so sensitive to the suffering of the people.
In the Church, we have to recover compassion as soon as possible as the lifestyle that is the distinctive characteristic of Jesus’ followers. We have to rescue it from a sentimental and moralizing notion that has brought it into disrepute. The compassion that demands justice is Jesus’ great commandment: “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”
This compassion is necessary today more than ever. As the centers of power see it, everything is taken into account before the sufferings of victims are considered. Everything is kept running as though there were no people hurting or losing. From the point of view of Jesus’ communities, a cry of absolute indignation should be heard: the suffering of innocent people has to be taken seriously; it cannot be accepted by society as something normal since it is unacceptable to God. He does not want to see anyone crying.
José Antonio Pagola
June 9, 2013
10 Ordinary Time (C)
Luke 7, 11-17