Generally when Jesus works a miracle, he responds to an act of  faith. In today’s gospel, however, he reacts spontaneously to help the widow. Her loss is devastating; she has lost her only son. A mother’s loss of her child is always painful, but the loss of an only child is even more so. Moreover, in Jesus’ time widows were in a precarious position financially. They were totally dependent on their sons. Now the widow of Naim was all alone without any solid means of support—without a husband or a son.

But there is something else here. We wonder: did Jesus see in the body on the litter his own body on the cross? Did he see in the broken-hearted mother of Naim the broken-hearted Mother of Calvary?  And, for the widow of Naim, did he do what he would want to do for his own Mother? “Do not weep. Young man, arise.”

—Fr. Bernard Streicher, S.J., a long-time faculty member at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH, now lives at the Colombiere Jesuit Community, Clarkston, MI.