Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Luke 7: 11-17
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.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that my life is in your hands from the moment of my creation until my last day. Lord, I hope in you, because you have created me for a purpose. Lord, I love you, for the great love that you have for me.
Petition: Lord, help me place all of my hope in you!
1. "Do Not Weep." There are many 'reasons' to despair. So many difficulties in life have no human solution. Especially when it comes to life and death, I find myself so powerless to help others. Jesus, however, offers a different perspective: "Do not weep." His infinite power frees us from tragic human limitations. Furthermore, "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). He acts, he intercedes, as Redeemer. "Do not weep," bears the weight of a command. As apocalyptic as suffering and death might appear, ultimately Jesus reveals a life-giving love: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain" (Revelation 21:4). The widow of Nain is about to receive a grace inconceivable to her present sorrow. I, too, should hope in Christ's kindness towards me and my loved-ones.
2. "Young Man, I Tell You, Arise!" Jesus does not console me simply by removing my emotion or by having me imagine that things are different than they really are. If I lose someone who is dear to me, I am truly sad. Instead, Christ comes to restore what was lost. He acts to remove the cause of pain and sorrow: "for I, the LORD, am your healer" (Exodus 15:26). When Jesus tells the widow of Nain, "Do not weep," he does not accuse her of being an overly-emotional woman who takes things too seriously. Quite the contrary, Jesus is compassionate towards her because of the loss of her son. Therefore, with all my heart and soul I ought to be obedient to hope. My life is in God's hands. The lives of my loved ones are in God's hands. If I live, I live for Christ; if I die, I die for Christ (see Romans 14:8).
3. "God Has Visited His People." Even at his birth, the Son of God who took on our human nature was named "Emmanuel": "God-with-us." Our Savior associates himself with us not only in life and grace, but also taking our sins upon himself and giving his very life in order to redeem us. "God has visited his people" even refers to sinners: those who suffer death as an ultimate consequence of original and personal sin. I can rejoice because God seeks me out wherever I am, heals me, and restores me for eternal life. If I have received such great love, I should repay love with love. I should bring the love of Christ to others just as I have experienced his visit to me.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I entrust my entire life and the lives of my loved ones to your care. Allow me to grow in your love so that I truly benefit from your grace, which leads to eternal life. Let me hope in your resurrection as I offer you my everyday burdens.
Resolution: In a conversation today, I will speak to someone about life as a journey meant to lead us and prepare us for heaven.