Reflections for the Week of Sunday June 5, 2016 Third after Pentecost

The Gospel: Luke 17.11-17.

This pericope is about Jesus raising the only son of the widow of Nain. The story stresses Jesus’ compassion as well as His power. This story as well as the last one about healing the centurion’s slave may be included at this point by St. Luke as a preparation for the reply to John the Baptist’s messengers seeking to know whether Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ). Jesus’ compassion is mentioned numerous times in the gospels and is surely one of the lessons for disciples to take away. Do we have compassion for those who are suffering? Do I? The opposite of compassion is described as having hearts of stone. Compassion is a chief component of love. It reflects a ‘circumcised heart’ (Dt 10.16; 30.6; Jer 4.4) which is the only true circumcision and refers to a heart made loving and kind. The mother of the young man is a widow, and the son was her only son. She is now alone in the world and as a woman has no means of support. Her son concludes the family line. For the first time in narrative form Luke refers to Jesus as the Lord which is fitting as Jesus shows Himself to be Lord over death and life. (Matthew and Mark do not use this term in this way; John uses it occasionally). Nobody asked Jesus to intervene; He took action on His own initiative, moved by compassion. He approached the body, wrapped in a shroud, and touched it incurring pollution according to the ceremonial laws. He commanded the man to arise, and the dead man sat up and began to speak. He gave the man to his mother. This raising to life is similar to His raising Jairus’ daughter and His friend, Lazarus. The crowd reacted with fear as in the presence of God, and the people glorified God. They called Jesus a great prophet which although it is an inadequate view of Jesus, probably represented the highest title the country folk could give anyone. It may have hearkened back to what the two great prophets did in the days of old (1 Ki 17.17ff.; 2 Ki 4.18ff.). The people further exclaimed, “God has visited His people!” The inevitable result of all this was further increase in the fame of Jesus as the news spread through Judea and the surrounding country. What are the lessons for disciples? The need to recognize Jesus’ compassion and the invitation to do the same. The willingness to step forward and involve oneself in the sorrow and pain of others. The willingness to insure defilement when necessary by violating religious rules if necessary for the good of others.The willingness to insure personal inconvenience like the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10.25ff.). As disciples, we should seek to conform ourselves to the example of our Lord to the extent possible. Of course, this is impossible for us to do in our own strength, but nothing is impossible for God, and God has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us and to empower us to become like Jesus and to live lives pleasing to Him. The Scripture says, “We love because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4.19). “ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn 4.7, 8). This is the main reason Jesus came, to make it possible for us to have new hearts and to be able to love God and to love one another. This is how we know that we have received His Spirit by how we love the brethren. Many  children are rejected, abused, and neglected and grow up with hard hearts that make it difficult to love others. We need to pray that the Spirit will circumcise our hearts.

Memory Verse: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  (Ezek 36.26).

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