Sunday, June 9, 2013

Two Resurrections: Paschal Mystery in Loss and Recovery

In today's Gospel we heard about resurrection from the dead:  
Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst, ”
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.  (Luke 7:11-17)
Of course, Jesus raised man who had died. What is not as clear is that he metaphorically raised his mother from a kind of death as well.

In a time and culture when a woman only had status if she had a husband or a son, to be a widow and to have one's only son die was a kind of death. Had Jesus not reversed this, her future would have been bleak.  Most likely, she would have been totally without resources. Her old life would have been gone, her new one a kind of living hell. Her future was hopeless, so when Jesus had pity on her, it was not just because of her grief, but because he knew what would become of her. The resurrection of her son meant she could live again and once more have an identity and dignity in her community. She, too, was "resurrected".

Do we have the courage not to lose hope in our times of dire loss and transition, knowing that Jesus can reverse the most negative of situations, as he did with the widow - as he did with his own death on the cross? Do we believe in Paschal Mystery - in the undying hope that Christ brought us?  Pray for the virtue of Christian hope. It does not come easy in a world sometimes so full of loss and pain.

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