Homily September 19th, 2023

Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time – Lk 7:11-17

            In today’s Gospel Luke recounts for us the raising of the widow’s son. The story is unique to his Gospel, and some commentators have called it “the loveliest story in the Gospels,”[1] because of how much it reveals Christ’s love for the people He came to save. We can consider, first, the place of the encounter, and then, second, the encounter, or encounters, themselves.

              First, Luke tells us that Jesus meets the funeral procession in Nain, a town in Galilee. The name of the town comes from the Hebrew word for “lovely,” or “beautiful.”[2] The town itself was small and rather insignificant; indeed, this is the only mention of it in the entire Gospel. Yet, as God’s providential designs would have it, Jesus happened to pass through just as the son happened to have passed away and the funeral happened to be going on. For those few minutes or hours, the town that had been the center of a bleak funeral and seemed far removed from anything lovely, truly lived up to its name, as Beauty Incarnate came to pass through it. Likewise, there are no coincidences with God, and His mere presence transforms what is otherwise would be lowly and sad, into joy and gladness. This is particularly important for we who are religious to remember: Christ’s presence is our joy, and there is nothing that happens that escapes God’s providence.

            Secondly, some commentators point out that here we have a meeting between two only begotten sons, and two people of sorrows. Luke makes it a point to tell us that the son was the “only-begotten son” of his mother, and that she was a widow. Saint Gregory of Nyssa says that “[Luke] has told us the sum of misery in a few words. The mother was a widow, and had no further hope of baring children, she had no one upon whom she might look in the place of him that was dead. Him alone had she nursed, he alone made her home cheerful. All that is sweet and precious to a mother, was he alone to her.”[3] This woman, overwhelmed by sorrow, meets Christ, the Man of Sorrows. At the sight, Jesus is moved to compassion, and Luke uses a very strong word to describe it, one that means “moved deeply within.” Likewise, He doesn’t simply touch the coffin, but rather “grabs hold of it,” and tells the mother, “Do not weep.” Christ is not indifferent to the sufferings of His people, and His love for them is efficacious; it brings relief to those who suffer. “Jesus claimed as his own what death had seized as his prey.”

            Again, as religious, we need to bear this in mind: Christ takes note of the sufferings we endure for love of Him. As the Psalm tells us: “My wanderings you have noted; are my tears not stored in your flask, recorded in your book?” It should also encourage us to have compassion, particularly with sinners. There is no one who is so dead to sin as to despair of God’s mercy.

Today, through the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows, let us ask for the grace to trust in God’s providence and love for us, and to pray for the conversion of sinners, so that those who are dead to sin might arise to new life in Christ.

[1] Barclay’s Commentary on this passage.

[2] Strong’s Concordance

[3] Cited in the Catena Aurea.



Other posts


A. Institution of the Diaconate in the Church The diaconate