Sunday. Ordinary Time 2013, week 10

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; whom should I dread? When those who do evil draw near, they stumble and fall (Psalm 27 :1-2)

O God,
from whom all good things come,
grant that we,
who call on you in our need,
may at your prompting discern what is right,
and by your guidance do it.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (click for full Psalm)
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. (Psalm 30: 2).

SCRIPTURE EXCERPT (click for all readings)
“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 (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, esplagchnisthe) 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).”

No one asks Jesus to do anything. The “large crowd” accompanying Jesus appears to act as silent observers. The widow herself, no doubt overcome with grief, says nothing to Jesus. Yet the site of a widow burying her only son hits Jesus in His gut (click for a previous reflection on biblical pity/compassion) and He acts decisively, resuscitating the young man. The once silent crowd erupts in jubilation with a characteristically Lucan response: “God has visited (ἐπεσκέψατο, epeskepsato) his people.”

One might say that “to visit (ἐπισκέπτομαι, episkeptomai)” is a rather neutral term: a ‘visit’ can raise positive and negative responses. A visit can be planned or spontaneous. No matter the ‘neutrality’ of the act, a visit often involves some type of meeting, some type of encounter between persons. The Greek root, however, is not foremost about ‘meeting,’ it is about ‘seeing.’
σκοπέω (skopeo), the Greek root for the verb “to visit,” means ‘to stare intently at an object or a person.’ σκοπέω (skopeo) involves a deliberate act, choosing clearly to view intently. In other words, σκοπέω (skopeo) is not a casual or accidental glance. When the prefix ἐπι (epi) is added, meaning ‘above or over,’ the word conveys a sense of ‘viewing the big picture,’ ‘getting a sense of the whole,’ or ‘seeing what things are about (incidentally, this is also the same root for ἐπισκοπος (episkopos, the Greek word translated ‘bishop’).’ In time, ἐπισκέπτομαι, (episkeptomai) came to mean “considering” as well as “caring about the good of another” because when one saw another, one potentially could see what another person needed. By the time of the Gospels, ἐπισκέπτομαι, (episkeptomai) had come to mean ‘to see another in need (sick, victim, imprisoned, etc) and thus acting to alieviate the burden.’
From a Gospel perspective, ἐπισκέπτομαι, (episkeptomai) is far more than simply meeting other people. It expresses how the Divine Persons act – ‘God visits and brings salvation.’ Jesus needs no one to tell Him what to do in this situation. In terms of Him ‘eyeing up the situation,’ He knows exactly what is lacking – life! As the author and source of life He pronounces the Word of life that conquers death.

Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful (click here)