Tag Archives: life

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

16th Sunday after Trinity

September 24, 2023 AD

Old Testament: I Kings 17: 17-24
Epistle: Ephesians 3: 13-21
Gospel: Luke 7:11-17


Then [Jesus] came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Saint Luke 7:14, 15

We read in the Gospel for this Lord’s Day, “Jesus went to a town called Nain and his disciples and a great crowd went with him.” The city of Nain was about five miles southeast of Nazareth where Jesus had grown up in the home of Mary His mother and His foster father Joseph. It’s also not far from Mount Tabor which is thought to be the place of Christ’s transfiguration. The city of Nain survives to the present day as a village called in Arabic Nein. It seems that the name Nain was taken from a Hebrew word which means pleasant, delightful and Nain does have a fine view of the Plain of Esdraelon and there is a spring that makes possible groves of olive and fig trees.

But as Jesus and His disciples and the great crowd approach the gates of the city they encounter an utterly familiar, completely ordinary scene: a scene experienced by countless people countless times every day in every part of this fallen world. A funeral procession of mourners, a body being carried to the grave. But what then happens is utterly OUT of the ordinary because this procession to the grave is met by another procession: a procession of life consisting of Jesus’ disciples and a great crowd and Jesus with them. THIS procession is a procession of LIFE because Jesus is the Lord of Life who said, “I AM the resurrection and the life, the one who believes in me — though he were dead — yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in ME shall never die.” And those WORDS are not JUST words! They come to life as the Lord of Life has compassion on the widow following the dead body of her only Son to the grave. You might say that here these two processions collide, the procession of death and the procession of life — and LIFE triumphs! JESUS who IS the resurrection and the life triumphs!”

“Do not weep” He says to that sorrowing mother. He goes and He touches the bier “and the bearers stand still. ‘Young man, I say to you, ARISE!’” says Jesus and the dead man and begins to speak “and Jesus gives him to his mother.”

Jesus not only GIVES life. Jesus IS the Life just as He says, “I AM the way, the Truth, AND THE LIFE…I AM the resurrection and the life.” To this fallen, death-bound world the One who IS LIFE has come. In dying He DESTROYS death and in rising from the dead He bestows everlasting life not only on us human beings but on the whole death- bound creation. For the Apostle Paul says that — in a way we cannot now even dimly imagine — “CREATION ITSELF will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.” And in his vision while exiled on Patmos, Saint John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, saw a NEW heaven and a NEW earth where there are no tears, neither sorrow nor crying for — as John writes — “the former things have passed away.” I love those memorable words of the late Vladimir Lossky: “An infinite ocean of light flows from the body of the risen Lord.” “AN OCEAN OF LIGHT FLOWS FROM THE BODY OF THE RISEN LORD.”

“From the BODY of the risen Lord” because HIS body is the body of God the Son who IS Light and Life from all eternity, made FLESH of the virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. I love the words of one of the great FATHERS of the Church, Saint Cyril of Alexandria, when he explains the meaning of Jesus’ touching the bier which held the corpse of the young man. Saint Cyril says:

“The Lord Jesus works the miracle NOT ONLY by WORD of mouth, but also by TOUCHING the bier — so that we may know that the sacred BODY of Christ has power to save mankind. For it is the Body of the One who is LIFE and the FLESH of the omnipotent Son and Word of the Father whose power it possesses. For as iron applied to fire will do the work of fire, so FLESH, after it has been united with the WORD who gives life to all things, ALSO becomes LIFE GIVING and a banisher of death.”

And how wonderful it is that this LIFE-giving Body of Christ is mysteriously yet truly given to be our Food in the Sacrament of the Altar. Christ’s BODY is LIFE-giving Food, Christ’s BLOOD is LIFE-giving drink: the Medicine of Immortality, the Pledge of the resurrection.

So there before the gates of Nain the procession of LIFE collided with the procession of DEATH – and LIFE TRIUMPHED! REMEMBER that EVERY LORD’s DAY is a little Easter because ON this day the Lord rose from the dead. And because of the Gospel read today, we are on this Sunday perhaps more conscious of this than we usually are. Just as EASTER is the glorious triumphant CROWN of the Christian YEAR so also EVERY Sunday is the CROWN of the week. On THIS day Christ speaks His WORD OF LIFE. On this day Christ who IS LIFE gives Himself to us in that wonderful Sacrament of Life and Love. The ancient Christians knew and understood this in a wonderful way and nothing could keep them from coming to receive their risen Lord and Savior in the Holy Mysteries of His LIFE-giving Body and Blood! How WONDERFUL it would be if we Christians in these gray and latter days could recover this joyful consciousness of EVERY DAY as the DAY of Life and Light, the DAY of the Savior’s resurrection!


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