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Maybe there are two elements to this story about raising the son of a widow to life. It is a song of the mission of Jesus and fits into the tradition of the prophets. Its source is Jesus’ compassion for a widow who has just lost her only son, so that she would not be totally on her own and without support, given that social welfare had not come to that area!
Compassion gives life
The compassion of Jesus here is so strong that life flows from it into a dead man. The compassion is for someone for whom there would now be little place in society and the fortunes of the widow in that time depended totally on the religious motivation of the people.
In the end the people were of course amazed but their amazement brought them to Jesus. We might think that they would be mesmerised by the man raised from death, but their awe brought them to praise God for his great work.
Goodness and God
Our ordinary life can bring us in touch with great goodness and spirituality in people or to a depth of prayer and care for the poor. Through many such people, God is very near and real in the world, and so our praise can be directed to God as we thank these men and women for what they do for us and for many.
The compassion which flowed from Jesus to bring life to a dead man can flow from us to enliven the lives of others. We can ‘grow’ this compassion in prayer. Our prayer with God if it is sincere will lead us into the mystery of being loved by God and called into love of others.
Teach us compassion O Lord, for in our compassion for others, we are doing your will.
Donal Neary SJ