Today’s gospel from Luke is a story familiar to many of us:
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. (Lk 7:11-17)
What greater anguish is there than a mother who loses a child. I know several, and from that point forward, their life had never been the same. Yet, Jesus has the audacity to say to her before her dead son, “Do not weep!” If you pause the story at that point and view it from a merely human level, your mind and heart reject his words, “How can you say that????” For me, it is a visceral rebuke.
But his words are not empty, they are not void, but they return having achieved the end for which they were sent (Is 55:11), and in his next action he makes all things new (2Cor 5:17).
It’s the same with us.
In our deepest suffering and sorrow, he commands us, “Do not weep,” and then touches the coffin of our pain to breathe new life into it.
We know, however, that the pain doesn’t always end in this world. And this is the core of mystery: “If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.” (2 Tim 2:11-12) In that reign there will be no more pain or sorrow or tears, for the old order will pass away and a new one take its place. (Rev 21:4)
God, the Father, knew Jesus’ suffering on the cross would not be the end. He still had to endure the agony of watching his son suffer and die. Yet from the beginning He saw the suffering of each of us, and in his love and desire to be with us forever in heaven, He touched our coffin in the person of Jesus Christ, and gave us new life.
Therein lies our hope.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us! Anne
The reflection in today’s Magnificat simply took my breath away. I share it with you in the hopes that it will do the same.
“Woman, do not weep!” What an unimaginable thing it is that God – “God” he who is making the whole world at this moment – seeing and listening to man, could say, “Man, do not weep!” “You, do not weep!” “Do not weep, because I did not make you for death, but for life! I put you in the world and placed you in a great company of people!” Man, woman, boy, girl, you, all of you, do not weep! Do not weep! There is a gaze and a heart that penetrates to your very marrow and loves you all the way to your destiny, a gaze and a heart that no one can deflect from his course, no one can render incapable of saying what he thinks and what he feels, no one can render powerless!
“Gloria Dei vivens homo.” The glory of God, the greatness of him who makes the stars in the sky, who puts into the sea, drop by drop, all the blue that defines it, is man who lives. There is nothing that can suspend that immediate rush of love, of attachment, of esteem, of hope, because he became hope for each one who saw him, who heard him: “Woman, do not weep!” There is nothing that can block the certainty of a destiny that is mysterious and good!… “Gloria Dei vivens homo.” We want this and nothing but this, that the glory of God be manifested to all the world and touch all the spheres of earth: the leaves, all the leaves of the flowers and all the hearts of men. We have never seen each other, but this is what we see among us, what we feel among us.
Monsignor Luigi Giussani, Magnifiat, Vol . 14, No. 7, pp 270-271