We have an interesting pairing in our Gospel reading from Luke today. The Roman Centurion who sends word to Jesus about his sick slave and widow of Nain's son. Neither the centurion or the widow, nor the slave or the dead son are given names by Luke. The centurion sends word to Jesus when he is on the way that Jesus' presence isn't needed, only his prayer and power which can come from a distance. While Jesus, for the widow of Nain, touches the bier upon which the young man has been lain. Interesting differences showcasing Jesus' healing power.
A commonality between these two very different individuals, despite their vast differences of station and position in life, is that they were both "outsiders" to the Jewish tradition. The centurion because he was Roman, and not part of the Jewish elite and this widow, whose only son had died, making her, according to the customs at that time, homeless, an outsider. And yet Jesus recognizes their grief and offers assistance.
Who is the outsider in our world? Whom are we missing from our communities and our congregations? Who needs this loving touch that our communities might not feel comfortable embracing? Who needs to know Jesus' power of healing from a distance? Difficult questions. Important ones though.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.