Jesus Raises the Son of the Widow of Nain

“Jesus Raises the Son of the Widow of Nain”
A reflection on Luke 7:11-17
Tuesday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2022 Gloria M. Chang

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Luke 7:11-17 (Lectionary)

Three Mothers and the Resurrection

The following poem celebrates the resurrection of the sons of three mothers: the woman of Shunem, the widow of Nain, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Eight centuries before Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain, the prophet Elisha revived the son of the woman of Shunem (2 Kings 4:8-37). Located only about three miles from ancient Shunem, Nain served as a geographical signpost pointing to Christ as the fulfillment of the prophets. 

The Authority of Christ

The authority of Christ, rooted in his divine sonship, surpasses that of the prophets. While the Lord worked through Elisha’s faltering efforts, Jesus touched the bier of the dead man, and with divine power commanded him to rise. The story also highlights the compassion of Christ, who is moved in the depths of his heart for the afflicted. 

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, The Shunammite Woman Falls at Elisha’s Feet (1649), National Museum in Warsaw.

Once upon a time in Shunem,
A mother lost her only son.
With faith she rode to Elisha
To implore his intercession.

The prophet’s staff failed to revive,
So Elisha knelt in prayer,
Then stretched out over the boy who
Sneezed seven times into the air.

Resurrection of the Widow’s Son at Nain, Bernward Column (c. 1020), Hildesheim Cathedral.
Attribution: Dr. Michael Lukas.

Centuries later in Nain,
A widow lost her only son.
Mourning and wailing, pallbearers
The boy’s bier bore in procession.

“Weep not,” said Christ to the widow.
He stepped forward to touch the bier.
“Arise!” he commanded the corpse,
Who rose, filling the crowd with fear.

The Crucifixion, Mosaic in the Monastery of Hosias Lukas.

Outside the City of David,
A virgin gave her only son.
Standing at the foot of his cross,
She hoped in his resurrection.

On the third day Christ rose again,
Victorious over death and sin;
Opening the gates of heaven
To his Father and Origin.

Icon of the Anastasis (Resurrection)

“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.

John 11:25-26

Over the coffin
Jesus is sovereign.

Traditional Chinese Translation


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