Today at Liturgy the Liturgy this was the Gospel reading we heard was this:
11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. 17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
Father Theo spoke a beautiful sermon on this Gospel today and as much as I wish I had recorded it but sadly, I did not. I shall, however, attempt to paraphrase to the best of my ability the essence of his words whilst adding a few observations of my own.
The first thing I notice is that the Lord came to this city and his first impression is that of sadness and sorrow due to a funeral. People pass away and funerals happen, but in this case we are taken from a scene of sadness to a scene of joy. The Lord comes upon the funeral procession and at first it seems as if the Apostles inquired, and were informed of the goings on. A funeral, but not any funeral, a procession of a dead son, the only son of a widow.
I can not imagine the grief of a mother at the loss of her only son. This was one of the impressions that Father Theo made today. Imagine being a mother of only one son. You are a wife to a husband and he has died, and now you lose a son. The grief which that mother must have felt having to bury a son and to be therefore, all alone.
I find the following parallel interesting. At the time of the death of Christ upon the Cross He had already seen the passing of his earthly father, Joseph at some time prior to the start of his public ministry. For the rest of His earthly life Christ’s mother follows Him in His ministry, even to His Crucifixion on the Cross. She is there from the beginning all the way to the end. I wonder if, at the death of the Saviour, if He remembered this widow of Nain, and this is what prompted Him to give to His mother His beloved Apostle John. “Woman, behold your son, son behold your mother.”
Christ takes this opportunity, this hour of grief of this mother and it becomes for her and for all present a sign and a time of joy and revelation. Christ calls the son back to life and he sits up and Christ returns to the mother the son that she had lost. THIS is love. This is compassion. This is the Christ, the God we worship. Not out of fear or expectation of some expected reward. God is not a God of vengeance and pain, but a God of ultimate, sacrificial, never-ending love. The “fear tactics” others use to “bring people in” to their version of Christianity are a far cry from the LOVE that we see in the Gospels. Christ takes us from the pain of death and the separation that would befall us at death, and He raises us up and returns us to our proper place with our Father.
This is why I love Orthodoxy. If you are looking for another application of the above concept I recommend the video below, which was made by a good friend and fellow parishioner at the Mission Church I attend. Leave a comment and let me know what you think if you feel so inclined.