In order to reestablish the moral principals of the entire creation and to bring it to its original beauty, a supreme sacrifice was indispensable. However, to accomplish that sacrifice no human being was capable to bring it to completion; therefore, God in His love and compassion toward us was willing to become incarnated for that purpose.
Thus, the Gospel reading which is appointed for this Sunday bears the mark of that act, the act of mercy and compassion, for in the Gospel we read, “…And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow…When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’. Then He came and touched the open bier, and those that carried him stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise’.” (Lk. 7:11-16)
Although Jesus performed this act of mercy on the widow and resurrected her son, yet the miracle in its essence has a much broader meaning. For Jesus did not come to resurrect one young man only, nor does He have compassion on one widow, but our Lord is, as we read in last Sunday’s Gospel “…kind to the unthankful and evil.” (Lk. 6: 35)
Let us, therefore, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, try to learn something profitable for our souls and understand the meaning of this miracle.
First, we should not look at the widow as a person who is in distress over the loss of her child. That widow actually represents the synagogue, and the son represents the virtues of the chosen people which in the time of Christ were spiritually dead. Those that were carrying the young man to the grave are the evil spirits that is the passions and sins which Israel committed, as we read in Isaiah; “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me… They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.” (Is. 1:2-4) And we read further as the Lord in His compassion says, “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Is. 1:18) The forgiveness of sins is in essence the resurrection, the life, for anyone whose sins are forgiven is alive even if he were physically dead (the saints never die). Further on, he continues saying, “…Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” (Is. 1: 26) Spiritually that faithful city is the Apostolic Church where we all receive forgiveness and are reunited to Christ, our eternal life. Surprisingly, for some, Jesus is always by the gate of that city and once He touches the bier, that is, once He touches the conscience, people are resurrected to do the works of spiritual virtues. Thus, the widow receives her son back resurrected; that is, the Church of Christ our God is brought from death to life. The widow is no longer a widow. That means the synagogue is no longer a synagogue, but becomes the bride of the husband man Jesus Christ. The passions which carry us away have no power over us any longer, for Christ the resurrection of all gives absolution through the mystery of repentance.
Although the widow is no longer a widow, yet she keeps on crying for her children. The Mother Church is lamenting over her children because they are carried away by passions and physical temptations, they have forsaken the spiritual springs of water of truth which gives life, and they have forgotten that they were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity.
Thus, my beloved brothers and sister in Christ, let us turn back from our sinful desires through the mystery of confession. Let us embrace our Mother Church and follow her teachings observing her feasts in holiness. Let us ask Christ our God to resurrect our conscience, so the passions won’t carry us away that we may live in the city of God enjoying the eternal life. Amen.
Fr. Myroslav Schirta
St. Sophia’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church