Sunday, June 6, 2010

Luke's inspired art

Today's Gospel in the Revised Common Lectionary is Luke 7:11-17 (text is below).

We have two "large crowds" who walk smack into each other at the choke point of a city gate. You have a procession of death and grief coming out, and an amazed procession of expectation heading in.

Beyond telling us that the crowds are "large," Luke uses no adjectives to describe the moment. He lets us feel the abrupt stop, the two emotionally charged crowds blocking each other's way.

He leaves room for our hearts and minds fill in the adjectives, which will be words like "tense, frustrated, confused, angry." But no matter what we sense in the scene, the standoff is broken by an unexpected force: Compassion. It is not insistence on right-of-way that prevails, but divine tenderness. What wasn't there is suddenly present. Life displaces death, because "God has looked favorably on his people" in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Soon after healing the centurion's slave, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

1 comment:

The Underground Pewster said...

I never thought of the two large crowds meeting like that. Thanks.