Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul reminds us and calls us to live as Christ’s Body.
As a body is one though it has many parts,1 Corinthians 12:12-14
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it.
Our prayer might lead us to ask ourselves, “How exactly have I been part of Christ’s Body in my life today?”.
The Gospel story of the widow of Nain could help us answer. Reading it, I remember standing by a large walkway window at the Louisville Airport on a sweltering July day in 2005.
Down on the heat-softened tarmac, a small bevy of soldiers stood at attention. Slowly, a flag-draped casket was lowered into their waiting arms. Just to the side, a huddled family, waited as well. Two children clung to either side of their young mother. An older couple stood behind her, hands gentled on her shoulders.
At the window, several other travelers gathered in silence. A few teenage boys removed their inverted baseball caps when they noticed a distinguished older gentleman stand tall and hold a salute.
No one who witnessed that brief ceremony will ever forget it. The grief, reverence and astonishment at life’s fragility emblazoned the moment on every witnessing heart.
When Jesus passed the gates of Nain on that ancient morning, he had a like experience. He saw this “only son of a widowed mother”. Once again, shaken to his roots with compassion –splancha, he pulled heaven down to heal heart-breaking loss.
As Jesus drew near to the gate of the city
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his widowed mother.
How I wished Jesus were flying out of Louisville that day in 2005! But then I realized He was there. The miracle was hidden, but still real. The Divine Compassion flowed through me, through the reverent gathering beside me, through the soldiers’ honoring arms, through the long prayerful memory we would all forever share.
That young man from Nain was raised from the dead… for a while. He, like all of us, eventually died. The miracle was not about him and his life. The miracle was the visible sign of God’s Lavish Mercy for us – God’s “feeling-with-us” in all our experiences. That compassion, whether miraculously visible or not, is always with us. It just took a different form that day in Louisville.
The baptismal commission to be Christ’s Body in the world calls each of us to the same type of compassion, of “being with” those who suffer, of honoring the God-given life of every person, and of believing in its ultimate resurrection.
Poetry: FIRSTBORN SONS AND THE WIDOW OF NAIN (LUKE 7:11–15)
by Irene Zimmerman, OSF
Jesus halted on the road outside Nain
where a woman’s wailing drenched the air.
Out of the gates poured a somber procession
of dark-shawled women, hushed children,
young men bearing a litter that held
a body swathed in burial clothes,
and the woman, walking alone.
A widow then—another bundle
of begging rags at the city gates.
A bruised reed!
Her loud grief labored and churned in him till
“Halt!” he shouted.
The crowd, the woman, the dead man stopped.
Dust, raised by sandaled feet,
settled down again on the sandy road.
Insects waited in shocked silence.
He walked to the litter, grasped a dead hand.
“Young man,” he called
in a voice that shook the walls of Sheol,
“I command you, rise!” The linens stirred.
Two firstborn sons from Nazareth and Nain
met, eye to eye. He placed the pulsing hand into hers.
“Woman, behold your son,” he smiled.
Music: The Body of Christ – Sarah Hart