The Widow of Nain

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

    

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Today's Gospel concerns the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain. We recall that this miracle occurred just after the healing of the servant of the centurion, a healing which had taken place at a distance.

We can notice how this miracle of resurrection, like all the Lord's miracles, happened for two reasons.

Firstly, because as the Son and Creating Word and Wisdom of God, Christ in His divine nature, had the power to work miracles, restoring the laws of creation as they had been intended before the Fall, when there was no sickness or death. Through miracles He showed this power, the unique power of the Son of God. In the particular case of the widow, Christ could show His divine power and disprove the rumours which no doubt were already circulating, that the healing of the centurion's servant at a distance had been a mere coincidence - he would have recovered anyway.

Secondly, this miracle happened because as a human-being, Christ in his human nature felt pity and had compassion on those who were suffering. In the particular case of the widow, there was great reason for compassion. In those days a widow was likely to become very poor unless she was looked after by her children. Now the only son of the widow of Nain was the only one who could look after his mother. Without him she would have become destitute, a beggar and perhaps would have died of starvation on the streets.

The miracle of the resurrection of the widow's son was quite unique, unheard of and unseen in human history - only the Son of God could have carried this out. No human healer can raise from the dead. It occurred at the word of Christ and through His physical touch. It occurred at His word, because He is the Word of God, and it occurred through His physical touch, because only contact with the divine and immortal nature can confer resurrection, the overcoming of mortality. Only deathlessness overcomes death, only immortality is greater than mortality.

This miracle proves that the divine power of the Holy Spirit flows not from, but through, Christ's all-pure human nature. Christ's Word and Body are Life-Giving, as is later proved in the Gospels by His own physical resurrection. Now since the Church is the Body of Christ, this means that the same power flows through the Church and confers life and healing and resurrection on all who touch Christ in the Church, participating in the spiritual life of the Church.

As regards this resurrection, we notice that the first action of the resurrected son of the widow of Nain was to speak words, the proof that he was really alive, that his soul had indeed been restored to his body. Christ, the Word of God, gave rational words to the man, proof not only of his resurrection but also of the existence of the soul. Only beings who have souls can speak with understanding - animals do not speak, even those which can blindly and irrationally repeat or physically imitate human-beings, like parrots, cannot speak with understanding. The fact that we are created in the image and likeness of the Word of God, means that we have souls, the breath of God within us, and that we are able to speak words.

Symbolically, today's Gospel has further meanings:

The widow is the soul without God. Such a soul is left destitute, begging and ready to die.

The dead son who was brought outside the town to be buried is the human mind which is outside the Church. It is spiritually dead, unable to understand and speak words of reason, fit only for the funeral of all its deathly philosophies and speculations.

The bier on which the dead body is placed is the human body, which when touched by God, receives its mind and soul and is thus brought to life. Thus it begins to speak divine words, for now it has something to say, it is no longer mute, but is resurrected from death.

Thus a human body which is touched by God is a mind raised from death, a soul which lives, human nature restored and saved from death.

O Lord, restore us this day from the spiritual death around us and within us, as Thou hast restored to life the son of the widow of Nain.

Amen.

See also
Healing of the Ten Lepers Healing of the Ten Lepers
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Healing of the Ten Lepers Healing of the Ten Lepers
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
The Gospel, all the Gospel is a gift of God to us, and although we are not continuously reminded of the need to be grateful, how can we not respond with gratitude to what the Gospel brings to us? God has so loved the world that He has given His only begotten Son that the world may be saved; and the Son has given Himself freely, in the sovereign freedom of His Divinity to us; no-one has taken His life from Him—these are His own words; He gave His life willingly, freely, that we may live.
Sermon on the Healing of the Woman with the Issue of Blood Sermon on the Healing of the Woman with the Issue of Blood
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
Sermon on the Healing of the Woman with the Issue of Blood Sermon on the Healing of the Woman with the Issue of Blood
Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
Today's Gospel concerns two miracles, one the healing of an illness and the other the overcoming of death. These two miracles are closely linked, for both illness and death have the same origin, the same cause, they are both the result of sin, both entered the world as a result of the sin of Adam. As the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Orthodox Christians in Rome, 'the wages of sin are death'.
 The Centurions’ Intercessors The Centurions’ Intercessors
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
 The Centurions’ Intercessors The Centurions’ Intercessors
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
To see how this “works out,” let us return to the story of the centurion pleading on behalf of his servant. If we compare the differing accounts of this event in Matthew and Luke, we first observe that Matthew’s is the shorter and simpler version. In this account the centurion simply goes to Jesus, requesting that the Lord speak the commanding word, so that the servant will be healed.
Jesus Raises the Son of the Widow of Nain. Jesus Raises the Son of the Widow of Nain.
These few words, "Do not weep", encompass the whole purpose of Christ's coming to the world. Today's moving gospel reading from Luke 7:11-17 reminds us that Jesus came to wipe away our tears, to soften our pain, and to lighten the burden of life. One can only imagine how painful must have been the grief of the widow on her way to the cemetery to bury her only child - a son.
Comments
Wayne Bradley5/31/2016 7:40 pm
I would really appreciate it if you would identify the artists of the various paintings and icons, perhaps with the date they were done. Thanks.
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