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Today’s Reading: Luke 7:11-17
11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 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. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gavehim to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 Andthis report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
being carried out: A funeral procession that probably involved the young man’s relatives and neighbors as well as hired mourners and musicians (Mt 9:23; Mk5:38).
a widow: The bereaved mother faces great hardship. With the death of her only son, she is left without family or economic security. Her livelihood would depend upon the charity of others in Israel (Deut 26:12).
Mystically (St. Ambrose, In Lucam): the widow signifies Mother Church, weeping for those who are dead in sin and carried beyond the safety of her gates. The multitudes looking on will praise the Lord when sinners rise again from death and are restored to their mother.
the Lord: One of many uses of this title for Jesus in Luke (10:1; 11:39; 12:42;13:15). It is used repeatedly in the Greek OT to translate God’s personal name, “Yahweh”.
touched the bier: A shocking gesture. Although the Mosaic Law warns that contact with the dead renders Israelites unclean for an entire week (Num 19:11-19), Jesus reverses this expected outcome with his powerful word, arise. By bringing the dead to life again, he eliminates the very cause of legal defilement and therefore its undesired effects. Jesus elsewhere raises Jairus’ daughter (Lk 8:40-56) and Lazarus (Jn 11:17-27) as signs of the Messiah’s arrival (Lk 7:22; CCC 994).
A great prophet: A popular view of Jesus by his contemporaries.
Jesus’ miracle parallels the mighty works of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. (1) In 1 Kings 17:17-24, Elijah resuscitates the son of the widow of Zarephath. Luke’s expression, “he gave him to his mother” (7:15), is taken verbatim from this episode. (2) In 2 Kings 4:32-37, Elisha likewise restores life to the son of aShunammite woman.