Jesus’ compassion gives life.


Jesus “said, ‘Young man, I bid you get up.’ The dead man sat up and began to speak.” –Luke 7:14-15

We are all probably familiar with the Gospel incident in which Jesus brought a man back to life. This happened because Jesus had compassion for the young man’s mother. The recounting of this simple, yet moving, story reminds us that God’s mercy will always be one of great compassion. The gospels occasionally tell us that Jesus responds from the depths of human compassion. On seeing the widow, Jesus responds not from a sense of practicality, but from human concern.

May be miracles on a grand scale are not part of the experience of many of us. And may be, when we lost a loved one, we would have liked to see the kind of miracle that we read about in the Gospel. Let us look at a different understanding of how God works, of what is the meaning of scripture and how our prayer fits into our relationship with God. If Jesus had raised you from the dead, wouldn’t that inspire you to love Him with all your heart and to serve Him with zeal and total abandon? However, Jesus has raised you from a worse death than physical death. He has raised you from the death of sin. If God is so compassionate toward us, who deserve such great punishment for our failure to love God through our neighbor, then imagine how forgiving we ought to be of others when we think they have offended us, mere mortals that we are.

Our lives before receiving new life in Christ were much more like death than life. God’s Word describes our original state thus: “You were dead because of your sins and offenses, as you gave allegiance to the present age and to the prince of the air, that spirit who is even now at work among the rebellious. All of us were once of their company”. “Even when you were dead in sin and your flesh was uncircumcised, God gave you new life in company with Christ. He pardoned all our sins”. “The wages of sin is death”. Those who do not repent are “among the living dead”. Even whole churches, cities, and nations can be dead. So it is not just a figure of speech that all of us were dead. It is a literal, spiritual statement.

Our God, embodied in the person of Jesus, is an incarnational God who embraces the pain and joy of our human experience.  Because of the Incarnation, Jesus responds compassionately to the childless widow’s grief. Jesus’ compassion gives life. By our Baptism into Jesus through faith, Jesus has raised us from death. We have reason to be grateful – eternally and zealously grateful. Therefore, “offer yourselves to God as men who have come back from the dead to life and your bodies to God as weapons for justice”. We have been raised! It is true! So, let us be forgiving of one another and pray for neighbor and enemy alike. As St. Francis of Assisi prayed, let us become instruments of peace to all whom we meet. Let us never return hatred for hatred, but rather bless those who curse us.

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