- Fr. Athanasius Oweis
Resurrection of Hope - 10/10/2021
Link to Gospel Reading: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
At that time, Jesus went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!”
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
both now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.
If you ever would imagine anybody with emotions of complete and utter despair. It was this woman whom the Lord visited in our Gospel reading this morning. This woman, not only being a second class citizen as a woman in the Jewish tradition, but she was also a widow. Her man has passed away, her support pillar is not there anymore, and the only thing that she had left in this life is hope. Hope in her son, whom she was raising by herself. This man was her only glimpse of hope, and he would be only her only guarantee of a descent life as she is growing in her days of life. She would wake up every day to take care of this young man. Now, her only hope has died. It was not only that she lost her son, she also lost her only hope in life, why should she stay living? What is she to do now? How is she going to live? Who on earth would remember an old woman and give her consolation? If God of Heavens forgot her and took her man and her son, would anyone on earth remember her?
This is the moment where the Lord Jesus Christ, followed by his disciples, followed by a great crowd whom each had their own motive to follow Jesus, walks to the gate of the city, the gate where the woman would exist the city to bury her son, and enter that gate back carrying not only her grief, but a weight of life that is no longer needed, no longer has light, a city where she would live alone, lonely, where she would be living in poverty under the shadow of death till her own day comes. At that gate, the Lord Jesus appears, and shows his compassion. The crowd now will witness a not a regular miracle, but something that happens very, very rarely if ever. Not only a miracle, but a resurrection of the dead! The Lord Jesus shows his compassion to the woman and tells her: “Do not weep”. How much do we long to hear those sweet words of Christ? Today Christ is telling you and me “Do not weep”. Are you doubting the power of Christ, not only he resurrects, He is the Resurrection, He is the life!
In today’s Gospel not only the son’s body was resurrected, but also the woman’s soul. This woman now saw the Lord with thousands around him, all coming to her, the woman, the weak, the neglected, the forgotten. God never forgets. His timing is different than ours, usually slower, but never forgets…
Today's Gospel has also an allegorical dimension:
The widow is the soul without God. Such a soul is left in despair and waiting for death with no hope. The town is the Church, the dead son who was to be buried outside the town is the human mind outside the Church. It is spiritually dead, it is unable to understand, feel nor speak words of reason, it is worth only for burial. The bier is the human body, which when touched by God, receives back its life and its soul is thus brought to life. Thus it begins to speak divine words, for now it has something to say, it is no longer mute, but is resurrected from death.
Thus when God touches us humans, as happens in the Holy Eucharist, our soul receives life, and we are saved from death. This is also why the Holy Fathers of the Church teach that it is impossible to receive the source of life, life itself, and taste resurrection, immortality, in the Holy Communion and still be affected by sickness and decay.
Another issue that today’s Gospel presents to us is the unexpected method of Christ. If you were within the crowd, you would see Jesus going unexpectedly out of the city, and surprised you would be asking: “Where is Jesus taking us?”. You would not know the strange route that the Lord takes you, it might look strange to you, but for Him He is preparing something totally unexpected. We always would like to take the Lord to our plan, we want to plan, we want to draw the way, we want to Lead God to where we want to go, and we pray that the Lord will bless our plan. when it does not happen in our way, we get disappointed and we start complaining. But as we mature in the spiritual life, we would start begging the lord that He is the one who leads, we have no say, we have no plan, we have no suggestions to God. We tell him: “Your good spirit leads me in the path of uprightness”. Even though that path of uprightness looks weird to us, but eventually we experience something more than miraculous, we experience resurrection itself.