Sep 17 (Lk 7:11-17)

“Abide with me fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens, Lord, with me, abide

When other helpers fail and comforts flee; Help of the helpless, O abide with me!”

Hold thou Thy cross before my closing eyes; shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;

>> Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

This hymn “Abide with me”, (found in ‘Night Prayers in The Divine Office’) is one of the very heart-touching hymns…

…sung especially in times of funerals.

They stir up feelings of mourning and the pain of loss…

… they also stir up a sense of hope and trust in the Lord, the God of Life and Resurrection.

The Gospel of the Day presents before us…

… a funeral scene

… feelings of mourning and a pain of loss

… and the instilling of hope and trust by the Lord, the God of Life and Resurrection!

The Gospel reading mentions that as Jesus was journeying to a city called Nain, “a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” (Lk 7: 11-12).

Life can sometimes be filled with extremely cruel feelings and blunt experiences, isn’t it?

This incident is a clear example of that…

>> A funeral in itself is an extremely sorrowful occurance

>> Add to it, it is that of the only son of a woman

(‘Only son’ meant…

… ceasing of the family generation

… termination of the family’s hopes and aspirations of the future)

>> To top it all, the woman is a widow

(‘Widow’ meant…

… there would be none to support her or to provide for her sustenance

… it was a double heart-break for a woman who had already suffered death once!)

This was a harshly unique situation:

As per the custom of the time, the bereaved mother walks in front of the bier

>> The dead son was being carried to the grave

…and the “dead” widow was walking towards her grave of utter hopelessness and inconsolable grief

A mother had to literally see her child from the “womb to the tomb!”

It was in this painful situation, that Jesus encountered the funeral procession!

The Lord, Who knows everything…

… seeing that tragic procession would have probably had a flash of what would be soon a reality in the future:

>> He Himself would be the “dead” Child…

… and His Beloved Mother, Mary would be the “dead” Widow!

This funeral procession of the “only son” of the “widow”, was a reflection of the scene on Calvary…

…. of Jesus, the “Only Son” of Mary, the “Widow”!

It is also heartening to note that this funeral procession took place in a city named “Nain” (or “Naim”)

This Hebrew name “Nain” has meanings such as…

… sweet, good, lovely, pleasant and delightful!

“Nain” is the word used to describe…

… the quality of Israelities as being the “favoured ones” (2 Sam 23: 1)

… the beauty of music especially the “sweet” sounding harp (Ps 81:2)

… the “pleasant” taste of bread (Prov 9:17)

… the “beauty” of the land (Gen 49:15)

The Psalmist also uses this word “Nain” and its derivatives, to describe…

… the beauty of the Lord (Ps 27:4)

… the favour of the Lord (Ps 90:17)

… the graciousness in worshipping the Lord (Ps 135:3)

It appeared to be a total contradiction that a city with such beautiful expressions and meanings…

… was facing the tragic situation of immense pain and loss and mourning

>> Sweetness and goodness seemed to have been replaced with pain and mourning!

>> Loveliness and pleasantness seemed to have been overtaken by misery and lament!

But Jesus, the Lord of Life and Resurrection…

… transforms the feelings of sadness and helplessness into sentiments of relief and hope!

The Gospel says that:

Jesus “was moved with pity for the woman and said to her, ‘Do not weep’…

… and touching the coffin, He said, “Young Man, I tell you, arise!” (Lk 7: 13-14)

>> Tears were halted…and life was restored!

>> Mourning was terminated…and life was celebrated!

Do we not face situations…

>> When life seems to be filled with extremely cruel feelings and blunt experiences…?

… death and separations in the family and relations

… loss of hope at workplaces and areas of labour

… feelings to ‘quit and give up’ as life loses meaning

In all such “dead” situations, the Lord encounters us in our journey of life, and…

>> Comforts  us: “Do not weep!”

>> Restores us: “I tell you, arise!”

We need to trust in Him

>> We need to be willing to encounter Him

>> We need to hold on to Him in our journey of life!

Our God is indeed the God of Life and Resurrection…

… and He seeks to instill hope and trust in Him!

May we always pray, “Lord, abide with me”…

>> And thus with hope and trust, even in the ‘dead’ situations of our life, cry out:

“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away!

Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Have Jesus always for your patron, his Cross for a mast on which you must spread your resolutions as a sail.

>> Your anchor shall be a profound confidence in him, and you shall sail prosperously!”

——————————–

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