Here is a homily I wrote a year ago for the homily workshop at seminary. While the reading was not in the context of the feast day of St. Monica, as it comes up today if one chooses the proper readings, I thought that it was still fitting enough to post today.
Homily for the Feast of St. Monica
Readings taken from the Proper
“a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow” Lk 7:12
Well into His early ministry in Galilee, today we find Jesus coming down south from Capernaum to the city of Nain. As Jesus approaches the city gate followed by His disciples and a large crowd reminiscent of another entrance He will make with palms and olive branches, our Lord encounters another procession out of the city, a funeral procession for an only son, whose mother is a widow. Seeing her tears, our Lord is “moved with pity”—His very innards churning at the sight—and draws near so as to console her. It is at this point that we may ask ourselves why our Lord was so moved by the tears of a widow? What did He see in those tears?
Simply put, He saw the very figure of His own mother, Mary. Herself a widow having lost Joseph, Mary will soon take the place of this widow of Nain in loosing her only son. Indeed, if the procession of Jesus and His followers into the city of Nain is reminiscent of His glorious entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, is the funeral process of the widow out of the city of Nain not reminiscent of Mary accompanying the precious body of our Lord to the Holy Sepulcher? Jesus’ love for widows is His love for His own mother.
Yet Christ does not leave the widow unconsoled. “Do not weep,” he says to her (Lk 7:13). This should strike us, since one does not command another—let alone a widow who has just lost her only son—to cease weeping unless that one can bring consolation. And in fact, our Lord Jesus Christ does console her; He revives her son. Yet, as St. John Chrysostom tells us, the very command to not weep is a command to receive consolation, for “when He bids us [to] cease from weeping, [He] who consoles the sorrowful, He tells us to receive consolation from those who are now dead, hoping for their resurrection” (Catena Aurea: Luke, chapter 7:11-17). Christ wishes that our very tears of sorrow over the dead turn into tears of joy through true faith and hope in the resurrection. This consolation is not a mere diversion or changing of the colors from black to white, but a real and true joy brought forth by an ardent hope in the coming of the Risen Christ who will bring us back to life. For Christ will come. He will raise our very bodies from the dead as He did His own. We know this. We believe this. He will do for us what He fulfills today for the widow of Nain.
We, then, following Christ’s continued exhortation to care for the sick, the poor, the orphan, and the widow, must be bearers of this consolation, this true hope in the resurrection. We, as His hands and feet, must be the love of Christ for His mother, bringing joy to the sorrowful by believing and hoping with them in the resurrection. For “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Lk 6:21) and be filled with the joy of the resurrection.
Let us now turn to our Lady of Sorrows and pray that as her tears at the foot of the cross turned into tears of joy at the hearing of Her son’s resurrection, we too might bring the good news and hope of the resurrection to those who mourn; that we too might hold fast in our belief and hope in the resurrection so as to live in its joy until He comes again. Amen.