Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 9, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

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 c27f852f5d49f8b3e6113d9162f682ed_w600glorified 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.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Three times in the gospels, Jesus raises the dead. The most widely recognized account of this type of miracle is the raising of Lazarus, whose resurrection account in John’s gospel precedes Jesus’ own passion, death, and resurrection. The Gospel of John is the only gospel to report the raising of Lazarus. All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, report the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Only Luke reports this narrative concerning the raising of the son of the widow of Nain.

This is an interesting account for several reasons. Chronologically in Jesus’ ministry, as the gospels recount it, this raising of someone from the dead is the first time Jesus performs this miracle. In this passage, when Jesus enters a town, he encounters a funeral and sees something which would be tragic in any time or place but is particularly tragic within his own culture. A widow’s only son has died, and she now grieves not only the death of her child but the prospect of life without either a husband or a son to care for her in a world that did not generally respect women. When Jesus happens on this situation, he feels compassion. No one asks Jesus to do anything; he acts completely as a response of his own heart to what he sees. Jesus immediately reacts with empathy to someone who is needy and has no one to look after her. In a way, just as the account of Lazarus’s raising precedes and anticipates Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is a parallel here in this passage with Jesus’ behavior on the cross where he commissions the beloved disciple to care for his mother.

There is another interesting detail in this account. At this point for the first time, Luke refers to Jesus as “Lord,” a title reserved for God himself. In a sense, Jesus reveals himself as Lord, certainly in the power of what he does, but most particularly when love moves him to act. With us it is the same then: we are most like God when we encounter need, are moved to do something, and use the power we have to do something about it.

Spiritual reading: What I love about the ministry of Jesus is that he identified the poor as blessed and the rich as needy…and then he went and ministered to them both. This, I think, is the difference between charity and justice. Justice means moving beyond the dichotomy between those who need and those who supply and confronting the frightening and beautiful reality that we desperately need one another. (Rachel Held Evans)


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