Dying to Self and Living In Christ (Luke 7:11-16)

When He Saw Her

As we read this Gospel today it can be easy to miss the point, especially if we have the eyes of our times. “What’s in it for me?” What can Jesus do for me? What will I get out of being a follower of Christ? How will this fulfill me?

Our Lord, having just healed the centurion’s servant  who was close to death the day before, travels to Nain where He is greeted by a crowd of people who are burying the body of this young man who has died. And as we read, seeing him, Our Lord was moved with compassion and so He raised Him…wait a second, that’s not what we read there. It’s actually not about him, it’s about her. When Jesus saw the boy’s mother He was moved with compassion. Why would He be moved with compassion after seeing her? Isn’t it her son who just died?

This woman who had lost her husband and now her son had nothing left. She had no other means to provide for herself. Often times women would be forced into a life of prostitution simply to survive when trapped in this situation. Seeing her our Lord was moved to compassion and raised her son and “gave him to his mother” to take care of her and support her.

We are not our Own

In a world where we have (or at least think we have)  modern conveniences and securities, it is easy to think that we don’t rely on anyone and can be completely independent. We can start to think the absolute good is our own freedom, our own choice, directed towards our own self fulfillment. But the story of every Christian is in fact the opposite. I am not my own, and neither are you. If we are in Christ we have been bought for a price, the sacrifice of Our Lord, and to live in Him means not to live for ourselves, but to live in service to others. As this boy is given to his mother, so we are given to one another to serve as the Lord serves.

There are tragic stories coming out of the Netherlands (and I fear will soon be told in our own country) where grieving children learn that one of their parents asked the doctors to help them commit suicide without the children being informed. They feel as though they have been robbed of precious time which they could have spent with their parent in their last days. If the primary goal is our own self, we will miss the truth and beauty of community and communion which we are called to as human beings, and even more so as Christians. There is a real danger of a sick reversal of this miracle happening in hospitals today.

God is Community

Where does the truth and beauty of community come from? From the community of Love- the Holy Trinity. God is not a monad. You can’t love by yourself, you always need the other. If you think you have love without someone else it could be any number of things, but the one thing it is not is love. Married couples understand this, or at least they are learning it as they go along! Parents understand this. We love the other because God first loved us, and before there was an “us” He loved in the ultimate creative dance of love in the communion of Himself- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

What does it mean for us?

There is a saying: “The only think you can do by yourself is go to hell.” I think that hell will be a very lonely place.

Realize that you are not your own, but that you belong to Christ, who has sent you to minister to your brothers and sister. Our salvation happens in the context of community.

  1. Write down some of your relationships on a piece of paper. Begin with your immediate family, and then move out from there to your church community, workplace, friendships etc. Who are you spiritually related to, dependent upon and responsible for?
  2. Continuously add these people to your daily prayers. Go out of your way to be sensitive to their needs and well being- even when it is inconvenient.
  3. Pray for the Lord’s strength in particular circumstances in bringing His gospel to the various relationships that you share.

Brothers and sister, we are not our own, we are the Lord’s, and He has asked us to love others as He himself first loved us. Let us continue in our worship of the foundation of all Christian community; the Most Holy Trinity who we glorify Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr. Michael Bombak

About Fr. Michael Bombak

Fr. Michael Bombak is the Assistant Pastor of St. Josaphat Cathedral in Edmonton Alberta. He is also a school teacher and a father of four.