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Raising the Widow's Son

Our reading this morning tells us of two healing stories that have a whole lot more to them than just healing those who were ill.

The first is the healing of the Centurion’s servant. Now remember a centurion is a Roman soldier, not a member of the Jewish people, although it is very possible that his servant was Jewish. This event gives us some insight into how wide the teaching of Jesus had travelled and how it was touching all around him, not just the Jewish people. That the centurion has some Jewish elders speaking to Jesus on his behalf telling Jesus of the unusual place this man has within the Jewish community is also important. Here was a Roman who had a love for the Jewish people, even to the extent of building a synagogue for them. As Jesus begins to head to this centurion’s house, he is stopped by those who know the man with a message of unworthiness of Jesus coming to his house as well as an understanding that all Jesus required to do was say the servant is healed and they would be. Jesus is impressed with the faith that this non-Jewish man displayed. In fact, Jesus states that nowhere in Israel has he found such faith. The servant is healed showing that the healing and grace of God is for all, not just the Jewish people.

Our second healing is that of the widow’s son who is raised from death by Jesus. Raising this young man from the dead was indeed a miracle, but I believe the widow is also healed in this story. If we remember, to be a widow with no family is to be a woman cast out, someone who is poor and has no income, possessions or family to look after them. Jesus saved this widow from being without any security and having no place in the community. She is healed from being abandoned by a culture that had little space for single women, especially widows. That her son was now alive meant that she was included back into the community. So, the healing was twofold.

So, in these two tellings there is more to the stories than just the healings that have taken place. I believe these stories tell us of the coming Kingdom of God that Jesus owned in the synagogue when he read from Isaiah. I think that both these stories are less about what Jesus can miraculously do and far more about how we are called to live, faithfully, trusting God; and inclusively, caring for the least of those in our community. This is news about the Kingdom of God and not about what Jesus is able to do.

Indeed, how we read both these stories might act as an insight into ourselves and our relationship with each other and what our lives proclaim about the Kingdom of God. This sharing of the Kingdom of God, the healing and caring Jesus shows, also tells us that “all are welcome to experience my goodness”.

Jay Robinson

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