The Widow of Nain
This is our life in microcosm
20th Sunday of Pentecost and/or

3rd Sunday of St Luke: Luke 7:11-16
2009


Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/miracle-raising-of-the-son-of-the-widow-of-nain-01.jpg In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Brothers and sisters, our Lord Jesus Christ healed thousands that we don’t know about. Only a few of His miracles are recorded in the Gospels. Therefore, the ones that are recorded are particularly important; we must take careful notice.


This is one of my favorite ones because it is very deep. There’s a reason why the Evangelist Luke says the things he does. The miracle could have been described much more laconically, but he gave certain very specific details that are very, very important.

 

This miracle is really our life in microcosm.


The Lord is going through Nain. Many people are flocking about Him, and while so many people are joyfully receiving Him, a woman is full of sadness, who is a widow; her son is dead and they are burying him today.


This is in microcosm our life, because there is a lot that is dead in us.

 

You know, only the Orthodox, as far as I know, talk about this. It’s not really a pleasant subject to know that there’s darkness in us, to speak of it often, to speak of the death that is in us. People who do not feel this darkness think that such talks is “negative” or shows “poor self-esteem”, or even indicates a “lack of faith”. But it’s true. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see it. When your heart turns and has that constricting feeling when something happens, that’s darkness. So this woman’s sadness let us equate to the darkness that is in our hearts.


So now she is going with a large group and they are going to bury her son; they are doing the funeral procession. And our Lord, Who’s a complete stranger to this woman, tells her, with absolutely no explanation, cease weeping, don’t weep, don’t cry. Only our Lord can say these words, because only our Lord can heal.


And this also is our life in microcosm because there are many times when we don’t understand why we should do something, or we don’t feel that there is progress being made. But the Lord is telling us, not only “Don’t cry,” but “Follow me.”


Simon Peter, when he was asked by the Lord to fish after the full day of preaching and the sun was high in the sky and the fish were far away and not catchable, he said, “Nevertheless, I will let down the nets.” [1] He had no idea why the Lord would give such a command. It didn’t make any sense but he did it.

 

The Lord says things to us that are unintelligible all the time such as saying to this woman, “don’t cry,” or to Peter, “let down the nets”,  or “love your enemies.”, but they will make sense in the end. They will make sense if we listen and if we obey. And the only way we will understand is through gaining wisdom through experience.


So the Lord says to this woman, “Don’t cry.” Now, sometimes there’s a long time between the Lord saying something to us and it coming to fruition. The Lord says that we will be perfect. Well, we’re not very perfect looking, are we? So it must be a long time before that is fulfilled. The Lord says that we will have treasure. Well, we don’t have a lot of treasure. And of course I’m not speaking of anything that is material. But there’s still a lot lacking in us. It takes a long time for some of these things to be fulfilled.

 

 

The Icon “Sweet Kissing” teaches the exact same dogma concerning our Lord Jesus Christ as the action of our Lord touching the bier: He is a man, and understands man, and loves mankind.

 


In this case, because it is one event, the fulfillment happens very quickly. The Lord puts His hand on the bier. This is a very significant action – it shows that the Lord is Man and God. Not only does He love man because He has become a man, but he understands what it is to be a man. That’s what that action of touching the bier means. He loves mankind, and He understands mankind.

 

So when He says, “Stop weeping,” He knows from experience that His words make sense.


When He says, “Love your enemies,” He knows from experience that this is the only way that we can have peace and happiness.


And all the rest of His commands, He commanded and He fulfilled the command in His flesh. So He speaks with authority like nobody else can. Because He understands what is the result of the things that He says to us. We only understand them darkly, as it were, in a glass. But the Lord sees clearly what His commands will bring if we obey them.


We must just trust Him that His commands are good and that, as He said, His yoke is not burdensome. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We must just follow Him, even though it doesn’t always make sense.


So He touches the bier to show us not only His love for mankind but His understanding of mankind. His way IS the only way to happiness, to peace, to security. There IS no other option and He knows it. And He will share it with us.

 

So what happens when He touches the bier? Another very important action that the apostle tells us. They stand still, which perhaps at first glance seems to be an obvious and irrelevant point. I don’t think it is obvious at all. I think most of the time we keep just right on going because the Lord is touching us all the time. He is always saying to us, weep not, or some other words of encouragement or rebuke, and we are not hearing Him. And perhaps He touches us and we don’t feel Him. But these people did and so they stopped and stood still.


I always recall, when I read these words, the Prophet Elijah [2]. After forty days of travel he went to the mountain. And the Lord was not in the earthquake or the flood or the fire; but there was the still small voice like a rustling wind, and the Lord was in the wind. But he was still in order to be able to hear it, because you can’t hear a little tiny rustling wind if you’re making noise yourself.


So the people stood still, but not understanding why the Lord had given the command, why He had told this woman who had lost all of her living, as a widow having no substance anymore because her son was dead, why she would be told not to weep anymore. In fact, I would dare say that many people would have thought that to be a cruel comment, a cruel remark. And then He stops the procession, prolonging the woman’s agony, in the minds of some. But no, He was to heal the boy. He was to raise him from the dead. This is our life in microcosm.


When you read -- This is why I tell you so often -- When you read the Scriptures, personalize them. This is you. You could say you’re the boy. I’d say more that we are the woman with sadness, with difficulty, with passions, not understanding really what we’re going to do the next day and having the Lord tell us things that we really don’t understand.


And yet in the end our son will be raised; we will become perfected. This is our life. I hope you feel this deeply in your soul how powerful this is. The only way to peace, to happiness, is to follow Christ.


But Christ did not give us some sort of exact outline, as you would in some sort of lecture class, exactly what you need to know. He says, follow me, do what I do. And because of our passions, because of our sins, we don’t understand a lot of times why we should do a thing or we don’t feel any satisfaction from it. Intellectually we can say why we should love, why we should become compassionate, why we should not lust or we should not gossip; or we should pray when we are tired. We know these things intellectually, but it has not penetrated every ounce of our being as it did our Lord. So we don’t have a full understanding.


There’s a lot in which we’re in the dark not because the Lord will not reveal it to us, but because we cannot take it in, because the only way to become good is to follow the Lord.


From the moment He was born to the time He died, His face was set to Jerusalem. He came for one purpose and one purpose only, to save us. And EVERYTHING He did was for that purpose. And He understands us, more than we understand ourselves.

 

So let’s trust Him, not in a superficial way, but completely and totally.

 

Let’s believe Him when He says: There will be a time when you will no longer weep.

Let’s believe Him when He says: You will become perfected.

Let’s believe Him when He gives us the Commandments and that they will be the only path to happiness.

 

There is no other.

 

So this miracle is our life in microcosm if we choose to live it.

 

May God grant us the wisdom to see as He reveals to us the truth. You have to stand still for the truth, brothers and sisters. You have to listen for the truth. You have to follow things even that don’t make a lot of sense. May God help us.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland  2010.    

 

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This homily is at:

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http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-20_2009-10-25+widow-of-nain+this-is-our-life-in-microcosm_luke7-11-16.doc

AUDIO: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-20_2009-10-25+widow-of-nain+this-is-our-life-in-microcosm_luke7-11-16.mp3

 

 

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[1] Luke 5:1-11, the First Sunday of St Luke. “4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:4-5)

 

[2] “And he entered there into a cave, and rested there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said, What doest thou here, Eliu?  (10)  And Eliu said, I have been very jealous for the Lord Almighty, because the children of Israel have forsaken thee: they have digged down thine altars, and have slain thy prophets with the sword; and I only am left alone, and they seek my life to take it.  (11)  And he said, Thou shalt go forth to-morrow, and shalt stand before the Lord in the mount; behold, the Lord will pass by. And, behold, a great and strong wind rending the mountains, and crushing the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:  (12)  and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire the voice of a gentle breeze.” (1Kings 19:9-12 Brenton)

 

 





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