Sunday, June 05, 2016

Jesus and the Widow

Look at it,
it’s like a battle scene out of a sword and sandal epic,
or maybe this years crop of super-hero versus super-hero movies.
          They’re lined up there, a whole crowd of them coming out of Nain, and a second crowd of them entering in.
One group mourning, wailing at the woe of it all
—mourning the death of this only son.
One group overjoyed, smiling and stunned by this savior they follow
overjoyed by the life of this only son of God.
          There, at that gate, they stand, recognizing one another the way you recognize yourself in the mirror
—hair parted on the opposite side, ring on the wrong finger
—so similar, yet not the same.
          There they stand, facing one another
—like some chemical equation, their mixing changes things
—a reaction that reveals something about God!
It reveals the depths with which our God cares for us.
It reveals the length to which God goes to save us.
It reveals the breadth of Jesus’ prophetic actions.
Let us pray

          The two crowds begin to intermingle, becoming one, and immediately Jesus steps through it all and looks, and sees…
This woman, This widow.
This woman, This mother of an only child.
          And he is moved.
          Moved in the belly.
          Moved with that compassion that rises up in a person.
          Moved with a godly passion that identifies with the other person so much that you can actually call it suffering with them!
          He feels that widow-hood. A woman without her husband in a world where women are so devalued…
A woman who has lost the love of her life on top of it all.
          He feels that only-child-mother-ness. A woman without not only her husband, but also without her son, her only son, a woman with no male.
A woman who has lost her very heart, this son of hers.

          Think of the position she is in
—alone in the world in a unique and troubling way.
Alone with the weight of the world pressing against her.
          My God!
          That’s one of the great things about the incarnation—God with us in human flesh
—God is moved by this…
the heart of God breaks for her…
God feels for those in need in the gut!
          And Jesus enters into this woman’s life, and orders her to do an impossible thing:
“Don’t cry.”
          What kind of order is that?!?
          I think I’d be offended by it, if I was her…
except that it’s Jesus,
it’s God incarnate,
who can fulfill the words of Isaiah, “I will wipe away the tears from every eye.”
He performs this prophecy right there.
He demonstrates how deeply God cares for us, right there!

          And then, he turns from her to this body,
this only son,
on a coffin cart.
And he touches it!
          Touches the body.
          Jesus, touches the body.
          In a world of purity laws, a world in which the forces of death and the forces of life are so distinctly segregated,
he touches this body.
          He’s defiled himself with this action…
          Imagine that,
God contaminated by Death,
the Creator of Life, allowing Death to pollute him…
That’s how much God loves us!
          And, if that wasn’t enough, Jesus defeats Death itself…
for this man,
this only son,
sat up,
and spoke,
and was returned to his mother.
          The spigot of her sad tears is turned off,
switched the other way,
switched to tears of joy!
God will go through death itself, to save us!

          And the Crowd—together, those who came with Jesus and those who were leaving with the Widow,
together witness all of this, and respond by declaring “Oh, my, this one is a prophet!”

          “This one is a prophet like Elijah!”
          Elijah, who we read about in the first reading.
          Elijah, who was known for the wonders God worked through him.
          Elijah, giving life to a widow’s child.
          But there is a second prophet lurking in their mind as well, the prophet par excellence Moses.
“This one is a prophet like Moses!”
          Moses, the great suffering prophet.
          Moses who intercedes on behalf of his people.
          Moses who stood in the breach, for his people.
          Moses who doesn’t enter the promised land, so that God’s people may do so.

          Yes, Jesus acts for us with prophetic, life giving acts. Jesus also acts for us by prophetically giving his life for us!

          For those who are so down and out that they’ve been turned inside out
          For those defiled by death.
          For all of us who, at one point or another, find ourselves in that line of mourners
          Trust that God, in Christ Jesus, has entered into the mix, crossed the line
—every barrier!
          He has become enfleshed,
become human,
that his heart could break for this woman,
comfort her,
bring her boy back through the very muck of death.
through Jesus,
God crosses into our life,
 is so moved,
is so compassionate,
that every tear will be wiped away
—that resurrection and new life are on offer here.

Yes, when the joy of Jesus is mixed with the many movements of the human heart
—God’s care, salvation, and prophetic will are won for us. A+A