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Do Not Weep . . . Arise!
Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
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.
Opening Prayer: Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful song. Know that the Lord is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise; Give thanks to him; bless his name. For he is good, the Lord, whose kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations. We are his people: the sheep of his flock (Psalm 100:1-5).
- Moved with Pity: This Gospel passage is a wonderful reminder of how personally we are loved by God. Luke wrote that Jesus was on the move, surrounded by his disciples and a large crowd. This large crowd was met by another large crowd accompanying a woman, who because of her husband’s and son’s death, was now completely alone. Mixed with her grief was surely a deep anxiety about what would become of her. Even though she was one among many people surrounding Jesus, he came to her in her fear and was, “… moved with pity for her.” In our own sorrow or grief, we are reminded that “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).
- God Moves: Every word of Scripture tells us about God. In this passage we read that Jesus journeyed, he drew near, he was moved, he stepped forward. In the image of Divine Mercy revealed by Our Lord to St. Faustina, we see the same. Jesus is walking toward us scarred by wounds he suffered for us. He opens his heart pierced to us, ever-flowing with mercy. In our pain we often fall into a false belief that God does not see nor care that we are suffering. Let this story remind us the opposite is true. God comes, he pities, he touches, he restores, he brings new life.
- Arise: It can be tempting to read this passage and exclaim, “Jesus did not bring my loved one back to life.” But that is not true. When Jesus willingly laid down his life and took it up again through his Passion and Crucifixion, he defeated death for all time. Jesus opened Heaven, which had been closed due to the original sin of Adam and Eve. Jesus died so we could live. Our loved ones are very much alive. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear on this: “Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live forever with Christ” (1023). “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven” (1030). Because we cannot know if our loved ones have achieved Heaven or are being purified in Purgatory, we can pray for them and ask them to pray for us. In this exchange, we stay spiritually united until we can one day be completely reunited where there will be no more weeping—all because Jesus died for our sins and rose again.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, the meaning of the word Nain, where you came to bring new life, means “Green Pastures.” You are the Good Shepherd. You know your sheep and you make it so we know you. Praise you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! Jesus, I trust in you!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for my deceased loved ones, “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace with the saints and angels.”
For Further Reflection: Watch What You Should Know about Purgatory by Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Nan Balfour is an events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic Evangelization Ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life. She is also a mother, writer, and speaker on Catholic topics.