Encountering God and World in Scriptures

Light of truth

Lectio Divina – 17

Fr Martin Kallungal

“It happened that soon afterwards He went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. Now when He was near the gate of the town there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople was with her. When the Lord saw her He felt sorry for her and said to her, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then He went up and touched the bier and the bearers stood still, and He said, ‘Young man, I tell you: get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and glorified God saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us; God has visited His people’” (Lk. 7:11-16).

The miraculous resuscitation of a young man at the gate of the town of Nain is unique in many respects. Jesus performs this miracle merely out of His good nature. Jesus was not moved by any prayer, except that He felt compassion for the weeping widowed mother who followed the dead body of her only son. This miracle has similarity with the one performed by prophet Elijah in the house of the widow of Zarephath (I King 17:20-24), which explains why the people who witnessed the miracle cried that a great prophet has risen among them. And, moreover, the dead young man and the widowed mother who is beside him remind us of Jesus and Mary at Calvary. However, this passage communicates to us best when we interpret it allegorically. According to St Ambrose of Milan and St Antony of Paduva, the dead young man carried on the bier is each one of us. St Ambrose says that the premature death occurs when one is consumed by evil passions and laziness. St Anthony elaborates on the allegory further. In his view, the bearers of the bier are our evil habits, and the corpse on the bier is our body drained of all graces. Because we are dead, we cannot even receive the Spirit of grace and supplication which helps us to mourn (cf. Zach 12:10). Therefore, we need someone to mourn our death. According to St Ambrose, it is the Mother Church who weeps for us. We may also imagine that the mother who weeps and follows the bier is our own soul where the Holy Spirit prays through deep sighs. When Jesus touches the bier, the bearers stand still. This tells us that our habitual evil actions, which take us to the grave, will stand still when we are touched by Jesus.

O’ my Jesus, I realize that I have many deadly habits. Often, I am drained of the sanctifying grace. I am simply carried away by my evil drives; most of the time, I don’t even know where I will end up. Lord, I have tried my level best to stop my habitual evil actions, only to learn that I am terribly weak. Today I realize that I could not succeed in my efforts because my mind and body were already dead, and thus I had fell prey to the vultures of the desire. Lord, please touch me and command the deadly drives within me to stand still. Call me back to life, Lord, so that I may rediscover your Spirit within me and join my Mother Church to serve her with pure love.

In the Holy Eucharist, Lord Jesus comes to meet with us. How do we prepare ourselves for this meeting? Do I recognize and then raise the dead aspects of my life to the Lord for Him to graciously touch and heal them? Healing comes through the life-giving touch of the Eucharistic Lord. Feel His gentle touch.

Find out all evil habits that drag you to inner darkness and spiritual death. Make a detailed and honest confession and allow the Lord to touch you bodily at the reception of the Holy Communion.

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