Today’s Gospel reading from Luke comes at the end of a section that began with Jesus reading the scroll in his home synagogue in Nazareth. The stories that follow show Jesus doing exactly what he proclaimed, bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour. Today marks the climax of those stories.
The scene is a common one. The average life expectancy then is around 35. Funerals are common. When we read stories like this our focus is usually on the miracle of the young man being raised from the dead. But the focus of the story is really the woman, a widow and a mother. As a widow she is in a very precarious position. Her only hope of economic survival is her son, who is now dead. She is facing destitution and maybe her own death. As the two crowds collide at the gate to Nain, Jesus sees what is going on and is filled with compassion for her. In an extravagant gesture he raises her son, and follows that by freeing him from all obligations to him as the one who raised him. Jesus then restores him to her. In doing so Jesus brings good news to this very poor woman. He sees her real human need and he acts with compassion. She did not need to come to him; he brought the good news of God to her. We who follow in Jesus footsteps are invited to live the same way, to see the real human need around us, and to act with compassion to meet that need, proclaiming good news to the poor in the way we live.
Today we are offering an opportunity for us all to prayerfully reflect on our level of giving to this parish. Being a member of God’s church is more than being part of an ordinary club. We do not pay subs, we do not attend weekly meetings. Together we seek to join with the Risen Christ bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour. As we regularly meet together and commit ourselves to each other and to Christ’s on-going work we become the body of Christ. Part of that commitment is our financial giving.