I’ve believed that generally the further people move into their nineties, mostly they are happy to leave this world and move onto distant shores. But in this case, the 95 year old lady was obviously not ready to give in yet. She was delighted he had saved her.
DEATH. LIFES DILEMMA
Death is certainly one of life’s great dilemmas. It’s often a tragedy if it comes suddenly and prematurely causing enormous grief. In the midst of great suffering we can sometimes acknowledge its blessing. Even in our time, some want to fight passionately for the right to die with dignity, they say. Others seem to believe there is no point in life with no life beyond, so eat drink and be merry.
Suffering, sudden death, the death of a loved one, and what if anything lies beyond death are the central issues that challenge our very meaning and purpose.
The gospel reading today presents us with a compassionate story about death. There are four such events in the gospels. Of course Jesus own death, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the raising of Lazarus, and the raising of the widows only son.
The beauty of today’s story is that at the point of apparently no return, the point that the young man has died, Jesus is moved with compassion. Nothing can stop his love. Jesus knows more than one might expect. Either by observation, by previous knowledge or by intuition he can read the story from what confronts him. Yes he may have been familiar with the village of Nain and perhaps known about the family. Some might believe that he had the psychic capacity to intuit the circumstances of the events. Maybe others would argue that he was just very observant and put the pieces of the events together. These are all possible.
What Jesus does know is that there is good reason to interject into the natural course of life. It was not his intent to upset the normal process of life. But he did see an opportunity to make a general statement to the people of the village about death.
It is to display a way we can regard death. The story tells us that there is a young man, the only son of a woman, who has died. It points out the woman is also a widow. The thought does not come readily to us for our social welfare system and equal work opportunities give people an opportunity to develop an independent means of living. But in such times, as a woman, she has no such financial independence. She is dependent upon others for her very survival.
A widow with an only son she is now on her own. Jesus compassion is such that he sees the opportunity to show sensitivity to her need and thus he is a man who loves even in the face of death.
Recalling the other examples we will quickly note that it is always out of compassion that he acts. The raising of Jairus’ daughter is similarly a sensitive situation because it involves the death of a child. Jesus interjects in the natural process of their life to make his statement. With Lazarus the circumstance is similarly repeated. Yes they are friends of Jesus but they are two woman who have lost their means of support. So Jesus moved with compassion, sees the opportunity to reveal great truths of life.
In conversation with Mary, he leads her to the point of declaring that yes, ‘she does believe in the resurrection from the dead.’
THE POWER OF GOD
In each case we are shown that Jesus displays a power over death, and the nature of that power is love. There is not a lot of teaching from Jesus regarding what lies beyond the grave, just two events stand out. On the cross Jesus assures the repentant robber on the other cross that they will be together in a state of paradise. I would interpret that their ability to see the truth enables them to be one in heart.
PHILLIPP AND THOMAS
Prior to his crucifixion Jesus reassures them that despite the fact he will be leaving, he will be awaiting for them and lead them to the place prepared for them. “In my father’s house are many mansions.” While we must not turn this into an earthly mansion for he speaks of the indescribable beyond through the comment ‘I am the way the truth and the life”
Jesus perspective on death and dieing was most encouraging. Death was certainly not the end. Whichever way you looked at it, from here or on the other side, He always saw it through his loving eyes. He spoke in simple terms, but always pushed us to understand it through qualities of life, the way the truth and life, rather than in spacial terms.
We may not know a great deal, but his primary advice us trust. To the disciples he said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in me believe in God.”