1 Kings 17:17–24
A widow’s son is brought back to life by the prophet Elijah.
The psalmist praises the Lord for deliverance from harm.
Paul defends his authority to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus demonstrates his power over death.
Background on the Gospel
The Gospel of Luke, written around A.D. 80–90, is best understood in light of the author’s background. Luke was not Jewish, nor was he among the first generation of Christian disciples. He did not know or travel with Jesus. To write his Gospel, he depended on the testimony and traditions of eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and death.
Luke, as a Gentile, was intent on sharing Jesus’ life story, teachings, and message of universal Salvation. In the passage before this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus cures the dying slave of a Gentile. Throughout his Gospel, Luke demonstrates that God’s promises to Israel are fulfilled in Jesus and that Salvation through Jesus Christ is extended to all people.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus and his disciples are approaching the city of Naim when they come upon a large funeral procession. The only son of a widow is being carried out. Jesus, filled with pity for the grieving mother, tells her not to weep. He then touches the coffin and tells the young man to arise. With that, the dead man gets up and starts speaking. The crowd, amazed at what they have just witnessed, praise God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst” and “God has visited his people.”
This is reminiscent of what we hear in today’s First Reading from 1 Kings when the prophet Elijah raised from the dead the only son of a widow. The woman’s response is recognition of Elijah as a prophet, a man of God: “It is truly the word of the LORD that you speak.”
For all these people, at this point in time, Jesus is a great prophet doing wonders and speaking in the name of God. Even John the Baptist sent his followers to listen to Jesus and report back to him. John’s question was: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Luke 7:19) The time for the full revelation of Jesus’ person and his mission is yet to come.