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.
In many ways this story of Jesus' miraculous power touches us. What could be more normal than being moved by the sight of a widow who has lost her only son? Surely, Jesus' compassion is familiar to the most hard-hearted person.
The woman has said nothing to Jesus. Why would she ask a stranger for help when she is surrounded by helpless family and friends?
And yet her deep sorrow begs for relief. "If you can do anything," she seems to say to anyone standing by, "have compassion on us and help us.”
Which of us watching the evening news does not feel the same generous movement when we witness someone weeping over the ruins of her destroyed home. And the same helplessness? "There is nothing I can do."
Today's gospel is prefaced by a story of from the First Book of Kings, of Elijah's stay with the Widow of Zarephath. In that story, not only does the woman ask for help, she does so with considerable heat! “Why have you done this to me, man of God? Have you come to me to call attention to my guilt and to kill my son?”
The prophet does not react in self-defensive anger; nor does he stand back and judge her remarks as unworthy of a pious woman. Rather, he restores the child to life.
In both stories we hear of God's compassion through the generous impulses of human beings, Jesus and Elijah. Both men are formidable, inspiring fear all around them with the divine authority. Both are moved by a widow's plight.
The saints tell us, "Without love, the easy is impossible; with love, the impossible is easy."
As we settle into summer, we ask the Lord to enable our love to greater works of charity. We know we can do better but we don't know how.
We may have a suspicion, "I can do this;" or "I should do that;" but until the Spirit of God moves in us as it did in Elijah and Jesus, we really don't know what to do.
God's spirit is willing, energetic, creative and bold. It finds ways that no one might imagine; doors, where only walls appear. Even strangers provide unexpected assistance when the Spirit of God moves.