There was a tradition at my grade school that, on the last day of school, students would visit the next grade up, in order to meet their teachers.
It was a preview of sorts. A mean teacher, a quiet teacher, a funny teacher: in just twenty minutes we would all get a taste of just what was in store for us after a glorious summer vacation
This Gospel – the story of the widow of Nain – is no different.
We cannot simply read this story as if it were a miracle, some type of good action: a fortuitous meeting in which Jesus, seeing a need, responds in the most extraordinary of ways. If we do, if we let this be a simply miracle, we create a God filled with caprice, a God who only intervenes in some places and for some people.
But, there is something much greater going on here: this story of resuscitation (because remember, the son would die again) is a preview of the truly momentous event in Jesus’ life, the resurrection.
It will only be two short years until another son of a widow is carried out from a city – this time Jerusalem, not from Nain. There won’t be a crowd, but there will be tears. No one will meet this widow – there won’t be mourners, nor a prophet available to great the broken and crucified body of her only son.
And yet, something will happen three days later: no one will tell his arise; no one, that is, other than the voice of his Heavenly Father who will bid him to rise.
This is, in fact, the challenge of this morning’s Gospel – to leave this place with the knowledge that Christ bids each one of us to rise – and to rise in a way more deeply felt that a simple chance encounter. Christ, indeed, does not meet us with a one-time fix. Those are only a preview to what is really coming.