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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Luke 7:11–17]

NOW it came to pass after this that Jesus went into a city called Naim (Fig. 73), and there went with Him His disciples and a great multitude. As He drew near the gates of the city, behold, a dead man was carried out, the only son of a widow. The poor mother, plunged in sorrow, walked after the bier, and a number of friends and relatives accompanied her.

 

Fig. 73. Site of ancient Naim. (Phot. Bonfils.)

When the Divine Saviour saw the bereaved mother, He was moved with compassion and said to her: “Weep not”. Then coming near He made a sign to the bearers to stop, and touching the bier, He said: “Young man, I say to thee, arise!” Forthwith the young man sat up, and began to speak. Then Jesus gave him to his mother. And all who witnessed this great miracle were afraid, and glorified God, saying: “A great prophet is risen up among us and God hath visited His people.”

The Omnipotence of our Lord. In the last chapter we heard how Jesus cured a man who was at the very gates of death. In this chapter, a still greater miracle is related, namely the calling back to life by our Lord of a young man who was actually dead. Elias, too, (Old Test. LXII) raised the dead; not, however, by his own power, but by his prayers; for we are told that he stretched himself three times on the body of the widow’s son, and prayed fervently to God, saying: “O Lord, my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech Thee, return into his body.” And at the prayer of the holy prophet God called the dead boy back to life. Therefore Elias did not of himself raise the dead, but he prayed to God, and in answer to his prayer God restored the boy to life. The raising up of the young man of Naim was quite different. Our Lord did not pray to God to raise him up, but commanded the dead man, saying: “Young man, I say to thee, arise!” and immediately the youth sat up and spoke. It was by His own Almighty word and power that He raised up this young man, and He showed thereby that He was not only a Prophet, but the Almighty Lord of life and death, or, in other words, that He was God. Elias prayed as a servant; Jesus commanded as God!

The witnesses of this miracle. Jesus performed this stupendous miracle on the public highway, in the presence of many witnesses. Two crowds of people, the one following the body to the grave, and the other accompanying Himself, heard Him command the young man to arise, and beheld the dead man sit up alive and well. Is it not foolish, therefore, of unbelievers to deny the miracles of Jesus?

The Sacred Heart of Jesus. When Jesus saw the deep grief of the mother, the Gospel tells us, He was “moved with compassion”, and worked a great miracle to console her. In all the troubles of this life, if we turn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we shall find sympathy and consolation. Our Lord’s example teaches us that we too ought to comfort the afflicted, especially widows.

A work of mercy. To perform the last services for the dead and to pray for their souls is a spiritual work of mercy.

The love of parents for their children, and of children for their parents. The intensity of the sorrow which overwhelmed the widow of Naim proves how much she had loved her son. The love of parents for their children being as great as it is, children should not repay their love with ingratitude, by vexing and grieving them. The young man of Naim must have been a good son, or the inhabitants of the town would not have followed him to the grave.

The miracle of conversion. The fathers of the Church see in the raising to life of the young man of Naim a type of the conversion of sinners. The raising up of a sinner from the death of mortal sin is a greater miracle of divine power and love than the raising to life of a dead body. “The widowed mother rejoiced, when her son was raised from the dead. Our Mother, the Church, rejoices still more over those who are raised from a spiritual death” (St. Augustine).

APPLICATION. Imagine that you yourself were dead and laid in your coffin, and that our Lord raised you from the dead. How, under such circumstances, you would thank God, and promise faithfully to love Him for ever! But, in fact, each morning of your life, God calls you, as it were, back to life. He has hitherto preserved your life, renewing it to you day by day. Have you thanked Him for this gift? Do you say your prayers every morning? Never again omit to say them! And when you say them, thank God for the new day of life which He has vouchsafed to give you; and make good resolutions, offering to Him all your thoughts, words and actions of the day.

How do you behave, when you follow a body to the grave? When you do so, pray for the soul of the person who is about to be buried, and think of your own death.








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