Read Luke 7:11-17
Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. Read More…
Meet Sister Marie Prefontaine
Sr. Marie Prefontaine, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, holds a BA in Theological Studies from Emmanuel College, Boston; a MA in Religious Studies... Read More…
This Sunday we have two narratives that mirror each other. The Hebrew Scripture and the New Testament story are particularly relevant during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, as they reflect God’s loving embrace in an everyday life experience. Impending death due to starvation plagues the widow in the Hebrew Scripture story, while the widow of Nain weeps in grief over the death of her only son. We can probably identify with one or both of these women in their experience of dying and death. Each of us has probably grieved over the loss of a loved one or accompanied someone in their process of dying. These two passages have a simple and singular message: God visits and lovingly cares for us in the ordinary and extraordinary events of our lives.
God “designated a widow” to protect Elijah the prophet from the drought that had overtaken the land – an unusual designation because widows were often cared for by others. Elijah asks and receives help from the widow and tells her “Do not be afraid.” Hearing and acting on the prophet’s word, the widow receives God’s blessing in abundance through food for herself and her son. “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy” (Mt.5:7).
In the New Testament passage, Luke tells the story of Jesus visiting mercy upon the widow of Nain whose son has died. The death of this widow’s son surely meant great hardship and perhaps inevitable death for the widow as she would have no one to care for her. Jesus, “moved with pity,” speaks to her and also says to her “Do not be afraid” (Lk 7:13). Mercy and the gift of new life are the expressions of God love for us in the person of Jesus. “Be merciful just as your heavenly Father is merciful” (Mt.5:48).
Pope Francis invites us during this Jubilee Year to receive the mercy of God’s love in the ordinary and sometimes difficult events of our lives. We are called to remember the actions of Jesus for the widow of Nain. Pope Francis also challenges us to share God’s loving mercy as God did for the widow in Elijah’s time. As the People of God, we are beckoned by the spirit of God not to be afraid, but rather, to act mercifully and to share God’s goodness with others.