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. (Luke 7: 11-17)
Introductory Prayer: Jesus, what a joy and what a gift to have this time to be with you alone! I want to know you more deeply. I want to hope in you more firmly. I want to love you with greater constancy in my daily life. Only you can give me these gifts. Only you can make me a bold and joyful apostle of your Kingdom.
Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to appreciate and remain in the state of grace.
1. Compassionate and Merciful: Surrounded by many enthusiastic followers, Jesus encounters a funeral procession as he approaches the city gate. He stops walking, he stops his conversation, and he shifts his full attention to the grieving mother who has lost her only son. Luke explains that Jesus was “moved with pity.” Jesus, in his human nature, felt much compassion for this grieving woman. He “feels her pain.” How much more does Jesus in his divine nature comprehend the pain—physical, emotional or spiritual—that each of us encounters in our daily lives. As in the case of this widow, he meets each of us with compassion and will work a miracle if we let him. Sometimes the miracle is that he relieves our pain, as he does for the widow in this Gospel passage. But sometimes the miracle is that he forgives our sins or strengthens us to bear our pain for his sake, and for the sake of bringing more souls to eternal happiness in his kingdom.
2. The Church’s Joy: The Church, often called “Mother Church,” rejoices when her sinful children return to a life of grace through the sacrament of confession. Saints Ambrose and Augustine saw this Gospel story as reflecting this truth. St. Ambrose tells us that the Church is a mother who intercedes for each one of her children like the widow for her only son (Commentary on Saint Luke’s Gospel, V, 92). Saint Augustine points out: “The widowed mother rejoiced at the raising of that young man… Our Mother the Church rejoices every day when people are raised again in spirit. The young man had been dead physically; the latter, dead spiritually. The young man’s death was mourned visibly; the death of the latter was invisible and unmourned. He seeks them out who knew them to be dead; only he can bring them back to life” (Sermons, 98, 2).
3. Raised from Spiritual Death: Christ, in his endless mercy, wants eternal life for each one of us. The treasury of his compassion is inexhaustible, as Saint Faustina tells us. In his mercy, Jesus gave his earthly, ministerial priests the power to forgive sins (John 20:22-23). When our venial sins are confessed and forgiven, we receive more grace (a greater share in the divine life of the Trinity) and draw closer to Christ, receiving strength to avoid mortal sin. When our mortal sins are confessed and forgiven, we not only receive grace and draw closer to Christ, but we are raised from the worst kind of fate, namely, spiritual death, the eternal death of our soul. Praise God! No wonder Mother Church rejoices.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, through confession, I can be sure that I am forgiven, and you restore peace to my soul. Do not allow my pride and my shame ever to keep me from taking advantage of this beautiful sacrament, the sacrament of freedom.
Resolution: I will spend at least five minutes examining my conscience today and begin preparing my next confession, which I will go to this week.