Message from Fr Gary - December 2019 - January 2020
Touched by Christ: Fr. Gary’s Message
I experienced an amazing awakening during our pilgrimage. Several things touched my heart, and you know me, I will spill these details, little by little, within my Sunday Liturgy sermons. Standing on the grounds where Christ walked and being at the sites where our Savior performed His miracles was most profound.
We entered the city of Nain. Our tour guide, Fr. Leondios (an Archimandrite of Greek descent), stumped me when he asked, “Who knows what happened here in Nain?” because he pronounced it “Nah-een.” When I realized where we were, I was provoked by the notion that this was where Christ raised the son of the widow from the dead. As He led His crowd into the city, He encountered the funeral procession and said to the grieving widow, “Don’t cry.” Two large groups, with two very different functions, collide at the city gates.
There is a lot to learn as we look at this collision. The first is a procession of death. It is the funeral of a young man that is the only son of his widowed mother. The second is comprised of Chris’s disciples and followers. One a procession of life and the other a procession of death.
The procession of death is exasperated by the details added to the situation by the Gospel writer. St. Luke makes specific mention that the mother of the young man being carried in the funeral procession is a widow and the dead young man was her only son. This is a very important and often an overlooked detail. This widow now had no way to care for herself. Her husband, and, now her only son have died. The sociological implications of this meant that she was to spend the rest of her days in poverty and impoverishment. She was, not only mourning the loss of her son, but the way of life and luxuries familiar to her.
The procession led by Christ and His followers is one of life, excitement and great enthusiasm. This crowd has witnessed several miracles and have received many lessons. We visited these sites and prayed where this crowd watched a blind man regain vision and a leper restored to health. They discover the love of God through His son and have learned a new way of life through Christ. They are further amazed when they witness Christ’s interaction with the widowed mother.
Christ has compassion on the mother, reaches forward, touches the bier and tells the young man to rise and then returns him to his mother. When these two processions collide, when they intersect, the parade of life takes precedent and the joy of Christ prevails. We walked these streets as cars zoomed by and other tour groups jockeyed to park their buses. We stood where the interaction took place. We prayed as we pondered the emotions of the widow.
The mother in this passage has every reason to grieve. She is experiencing the loss of her child. When she meets Christ, her grief and sorrow are replaced with joy and hope. She was overtaken and consumed by the sting of death and was renewed in the joy of Christ.
Standing on that street I began to contemplate how often I make mountains out of mole hills and let the pressures of life to carry away my joy. I thought to myself, “Why do I gravitate towards the procession of death when I have been invited to walk with Christ?”
Often, we allow ourselves to enter the procession of gloom, acting as though life's challenges outweigh the Christ’s victories. Instead we should identify the moments in which we are walking in gloom and allow ourselves to be reminded of the resurrecting power of Christ. We should not be choked out by the cares and worries of this life when we have been invited to participate in the joy of Christ.
As committed members of the Orthodox Christian Church, we are members of the Body of Christ. As such, we need to be the examples of His joy, His love, and His grace. Our Christian life calls us to depart from gloom and enter joy. To leave the funeral procession and follow Christ. To leave behind our worries and be touched by Christ.
In Christ’s Service,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou