Over and over again we see Jesus breaking into a someone’s life shockingly, gratuitously, unexpectedly, and uninvited. In the time of Jesus, women lived dependent on their husbands or in the case of widows, their eldest son. Today’s Gospel is about the burial procession of a widow’s only son. This is a situation of complete abandonment, total economic ruin, and social death for that widow. She was walking to the cemetery to bury her only son but also to bury in every sense her own life and future. Many such widows were reduced to begging on the streets or dependent on the whims of distant relatives. I am sure her thoughts about her future life were dire and desperate as she walked along the way to the cemetery.
Basically, she was a walking dead person – just like so many other folks who encountered Jesus along the way: lepers, foreigners, tax collectors, enemies of Israel, ostracized people, or public sinners. They got up in the morning, ate, drank, worked, slept, and walked through life with no social relationships with others, separated from God, no support, no hope, only despair.
Jesus bumps into the funeral procession as he is entering the town. His first reaction was compassion. The text in English says Jesus had pity, in Spanish it says sympathize, for her. Jesus came to share every part of our lives. He is compassion in the midst of our grief and despair. He spoke to her and gave her a simple message: Do not weep. To the young dead son, he said: Arise. The Word that express Jesus’ unexpected and undeserved sympathy had the power to change the reality of death to new life.
Much of the craziness, grudges, sin, and death that we build into our lives over the years comes from our disappointment, sadness, despair, and anger at ourselves, others, and God. Despite our hard-headedness, cold heartedness, and despair, Jesus steps into our life to open a new way to life. As Christians we walk the way of compassion and life.
Do not weep. Arise.