Scripture scholars agree that Luke created
the story about the widow of Nain
in today's Gospel.
Fr. Reginald Fuller, for example, calls it
that has little historical basis.”
What Luke was doing was shaping
story of the widow of Zarephath
to show Jesus as surpassing Elijah in his
role as prophet
and in his compassion for the vulnerable and
Luke makes it clear in the response of the crowd:
prophet has arisen in our midst," he has them say.
"God has visited this
people," he has them say.
story is really not about resuscitation.
The miracle is not raising someone
from the dead
but bringing life to those who are dead to the life they
All three of today's readings point to rebirth and new life.
tell us clearly
that our God is the God of life, the God of the
The widow in Zarephath was trapped
in the idea that her own
was the reason her son was sick unto death.
Paul was trapped
legalistic following of his ancestral traditions.
The widow in Nain was
in the social structures
that made her as good as dead without a
man to belong to.
stories are about metanoia, a turning around,
a change in perspective and
The widow of Nain, without a husband, without a son,
is weak and
in the culture of that first century patriarchal
Jesus' compassion turns her situation around,
and the crowd sees
his action clearly.
They see his compassion for her,
and they understand
the oppressive system
that would render her destitute.
They had taken for
the oppression of their culture and its systems
to the point that
it was invisible to them,
but Jesus' action makes it visible.
see the systems that diminish their lives,
they also see the possibility of
change and choice.
Like so many
of the scriptures,
this story gives us a vivid metaphor
The widow's son is dead,
and he is brought back
The widow faces the death of poverty and exclusion,
and she is
brought back to life.
The crowd recognizes
that they have been victimized
by a brutal government
that ruled with the cooperation of the rich and
of their own religion.
They been like the walking
We've all been
It can start with an assumption that turns out to be false.
how much money we need.
So we stay in a job that stifles our
or puts terrible burdens on us.
Then one day we see,
rise up from that dead-end job and move on.
Or we make a false assumption
like that widow in Zarephath
thinking that some guilt from her
is causing God to take her son's life.
Then we grow to
that God is not judgmental but compassionate,
and we rise up to
live in joy.
Or like Paul in that second reading,
we make assumptions
about what's right and what's wrong
and set out to punish the wrong
Then something happens—an “ah-hah” moment—
and we turn our lives
We've all experienced them—
before and the time after distinctly
Not all of those
life-changing experiences are big ones.
The little daily ones are just as
like deciding to go to a lecture,
or registering to vote,
cleaning the closet and donating the clothes,
or planting a tree,
smiling and waving at a stranger on the street.
Those little experiences are
because we understand the systems that try to control us
are free to act to change them.
We are free to act, according to Fr. John
because Jesus gives us the possibility.
Shea calls Jesus a “peddler
because he “revealed the mercy of God
and the oppression of
people,” allowing us
not only to see what keeps us among the walking
but also to rise up and
In our freedom of the
reign of God,
we are called to take action.
Our model is Jesus as he
reaches out in compassion.
Sometimes the action is reaching out to refugees
in our midst.
Sometimes the action is phoning City Council about Lake
Sometimes the action is talking with a
Whatever action we
take, we have a choice.
The Gospel calls us to choose compassion.
raises us up, out of our deadness, into new life.
Thanks be to God!
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH