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THE COMPASSION OF JESUS

Father Francis's picture
Tenth Week of Ordinary Time

Lk.7:11-17

How do you respond to the misfortunes of others? In a number of places the Gospel records that Jesus was "moved to the depths of His heart" when He met with individuals or groups of people. Our modern word compassion does not fully convey the deeper meaning of the original Hebrew which expresses heartfelt sympathy and personal empathy with the suffering person. Why was Jesus so moved on this occasion when He met a widow and a crowded funeral procession on their way to the cemetery?

Jesus not only grieved the untimely death of a young man, but he showed the depth of his concern for the woman who had previously lost her husband and now her one child. The only secure means of welfare in Biblical times was the family and, therefore, she had lost her future security and livelihood as well.

The scriptures make clear that God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone (see Ezekiel 33:11) – He desires life, not death. Jesus not only had heartfelt compassion for the widow but He also had extraordinary supernatural power, the ability to restore life and to make a person whole again.

What Jesus did, however, must have shocked the widow and her friends. He approached the bier to make physical contact with the dead man, although the Jews understood that contact with a dead body made oneself ritually unclean or impure. His physical touch and personal identification with the widow's loss not only showed the depths of His love and concern for her, but pointed to His desire to free everyone from the power of sin and moral corruption, and even death itself. His simple command, "Young man, arise," brought freedom and wholeness to his soul as well as his body.

This miracle took place near the spot where the prophet Elisha had raised another mother's son back to life (2 Kings 4:18-37). Jesus claimed as His own one whom death had seized as its prey. By the power of His word He restored to life a young man marked for death. Jesus is Lord not only of the living but of the dead as well.

Having died on the Cross for our sins Jesus also triumphed over the grave when He rose again on the third day, just as He had promised His disciples. He promises everyone who believes in Him that because He lives (and will never die again), we also shall have abundant life with and in Him both now and forever (John 14:19). Do we trust in the Lord Jesus to give us abundant life and everlasting hope in the face of life's trials, misfortunes and moments of despair?

Lord Jesus, Your healing presence brings life and restores us to wholeness of mind, body, and spirit. Speak Your word to us and give us renewed hope, strength and courage to follow You in the midst of life's sorrows and joys.

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