There have been too many young parents in our circles of family and colleagues dying in recent weeks, all of the deaths coming with shocking swiftness.
Even one would seem like a lot.
We pray for them, for the spouses and parents and siblings left behind, people trying to figure out how to manage the unmanageable, to comprehend the incomprehensible. I think of those who are ill but still living. Collectively, we respond to these terrifying circumstances with action. To fend off helplessness, friends organize meals, rides, even donations of breast milk. (If that last won’t make you weep, well.)
Who wouldn’t want Jesus to come through town and reverse death? (Luke 7:1-17, CEB) To save the life of a beloved one, or restore the life of one gone too soon? The stories of the centurion’s faith and the raising of a young man from a bier being carried through the streets offer us two ways of seeing Jesus’ authority and God’s power, and they serve to escalate the tension in the gospel. If the earthly religious powers already disliked him, were already poised to do something to him, these stories would only further aggravate them.
Imagine, imagine, Jesus on the road near your house, getting word of the illness of someone you love and making him well without even having to come by and lay a hand on the patient. Imagine, just imagine, Jesus coming through the center of town to stop the funeral procession and tell your daughter, your cousin, your friend to sit up, be alive, be well!
Awestruck, everyone praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” (Luke 7:16, CEB)
Awestruck, of course, they were awestruck. They got what we wish for but rarely dare ask. They could stop asking, “Why is this happening to her?” They could stop saying, “Why him? Why not me, instead?”
Their hearts un-broke.
Dear Jesus, we could use a little of that healing right now. I wish you were here in body, O Great Physician, to make these mamas and daddies whole again, for their children, for the sake of goodness in the world.
I hope you hear this prayer. Amen.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? The full schedule can be found here.