October 8, 2017

Gospel Commentary for the Third Sunday of Luke (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)

Third Sunday of Luke
Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain

Luke 7:11-16

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Luke

By Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

11-16. And it came to pass the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and much people. Now when He came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, "Weep not." And He came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, that "a great prophet is risen up among us;" and, "that God hath visited His people."

Because the Lord, while not even present, had healed the centurions servant, He now performs another even more remarkable miracle. He does this so that no one could say, "What is remarkable about the healing of the centurions servant? Perhaps the servant would not have died in any case." This is why the Lord now raises up the dead man as he was being carried out for burial. He does not perform the miracle by His word alone, but also touches the bier, teaching us that His very Body is life. Because God the Word Who gives life to all things Himself became flesh, therefore His flesh itself is likewise life-creating, and takes away death and corruption. The dead man sat up and began to speak, so that some would not think that his rising was only an apparition. Sitting up and speaking are definite proofs of resurrection from the dead. For how can a lifeless body sit up and speak? You may also understand the widow to mean the soul which has suffered the loss of its husband, the Word of God Which sows the good seed. The son of such a widow is the mind which is dead and is being carried outside the city, that is, outside the heavenly Jerusalem which is the land of the living. The Lord then takes pity and touches the bier. The bier which carries the dead mind is the body. And indeed the body is like a tomb, as the ancient Greeks said, calling the body [soma] a burial mound [soma], which means a tomb. Having touched the body, the Lord then raises the mind, restoring its youth and vigor. And after the young man, meaning the mind, has sat up, raised from the tomb of sin, he will begin to speak, that is, to teach others. While he is in the grip of sin, he cannot speak or teach. For who would believe him?