Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

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When Jesus tells tells the widow in the gospel that we hear this morning (Luke 7:11-16) to Weep not, we realize that it is the only thing one can offer to those who are in mourning.

Or so says St. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic when, commenting on this morning’s reading from the gospel he says: “Apart from this and our sympathy, we feel ourselves incapable of offering anything else to those who are mourning. The power of death has so outstripped our strength that we crawl around like insects in its shadow; and as we heap earth over a dead body, we feel that we are heaping earth over a part of ourselves in the deathly darkness of the grave. The Lord does not say ‘Weep not!‘ to the woman in order to show that we should not weep for the dead. He Himself wept for Lazarus (John 11:35); He wept in advance for many who would later suffer in the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44); and lastly, He praised and blessed those who weep, ‘for they shall be comforted’ (Matthew 5:4). Nothing so calms and cleanses a man as tears. In the Orthodox methodology of salvation, tears are among the first means of cleansing the soul, heart and mind. Not only should we weep over the dead, but also over the living, and especially over ourselves, as the Lord recommended to the women of Jerusalem: ‘Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children‘ (Luke 23:28).

In another commentary Fr. Patrick Reardon* poses the question: Once Jesus raised this young man from the dead, why did the multitude recognize Him as being a prophet? And he answers that question by saying that it was only the prophets recorded in Holy Scripture as raising anyone from the dead. For example, we have the cases of Elijah and Elisha. And the people of Nain, of this city that Jesus was in, very very familiar with these stories and as soon as Jesus raised this young man they were instantly convinced that He must be a prophet.

And he continues in his commentary to note that prophecy is, plain and simple, God’s word inserted into our human history. Because human history without prophecy is nothing but a funeral procession. And the task of prophecy is to stop that procession in the very same way Jesus stopped the procession in this morning’s gospel reading. And, of course, the most singular act of prophecy in the history of the world and man is that day when Christ rose from the dead.

This episode is taken from the seventh chapter of St. Luke’s gospel. It is there that we read how Jesus was approached by a centurion who asked Him to heal his servant. It was right after that incident that we read how Jesus went to the city of Nain and there encountered the funeral procession. What’s interesting to note, however, while Jesus was approached by the centurion – and we have other instances of Jesus being approached by different people, asking Him for help – He was not approached by anyone to raise the young man from the dead. Instead, the evangelist writes that Jesus saw the funeral procession and He saw the widow “And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her…” (v. 13).

It is God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; It is God who sends His Son for the salvation of mankind and it is God who sees all of us as well and touches our lives. Yet, it is up to us to recognize Him, to confess Him and place our faith in Him as the prophet, as our Savior and the very salvation of mankind. Amen.

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*Fr. Patrick’s Daily Reflections (here), for Friday, September 12

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Humpty’s Great Fall

Finally! After years of having to deal with violence on television and the movies and, especially, video games, it appears our children will be safe for, alas, an end is in sight. News from England is that they are fed up with it all and have decided to re-write some of the gory scenes from children’s literature. And they’ve started with, well… Humpty Dumpty. (here)

The fateful ending of that famous nursery rhyme has received a bit of a change. Instead of Dumpty, who suffered a great fall, not being able to be put back together again, we now read how “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men; Made Humpty Dumpty happy again.”

And this change caused some reaction:

Watching the show with his children Labour MP Tom Harris was very put off by the change. “For goodness sake. Kids should be exposed to real life a bit, not cosseted away,” the Sun quoted him as saying. “We need to stop this moronic activity. Let them see colourful and violent cartoons, and let them be children,” he stated.

The Glasgow South MP said he had also seen Little Miss Muffet changed on the channel so she made friends with the spider rather than fled.

Language expert Lynne Truss accused the Beeb of trying to shield children from real emotions.

But, in the end, a spokeswoman from the BBC stated that the change in the nursery rhyme was for not other reason “than being creative and entertaining”. (here)

Personally, I prefer the original version. For that matter, I’d much rather have my children read the original book than watch Disney’s or Pixar’s version. It’s good for them to experience the real emotions which words convey and not have to be distracted by the colors and graphics and whatnot. Words are powerful and, unlike television and the movies, they’ve always been around, “In the beginning was the Word…”.

As far as the new version of Humpty is concerned, it appears that despite the horses’ and king’s men new knowledge in putting egg-shaped men together again one thing is for certain, Humpty has surely suffered a great fall!