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“Do Not Weep”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
There are few things in the world that can make us as uncomfortable as when we come across someone who is crying. The reason doesn’t matter, though of course some occasions are worse than others. But when we see someone crying, we don't know what to say. We offer cold comfort. We might give an awkward pat on the back, and then we tell the person, “Don't cry. Everything will be alright.” The thing is, we don’t know if it actually will be alright. Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we are uncomfortable, and we would rather say something—anything—that might cover the sound of sobbing, that will let us walk away thinking we’ve done something. Lord, teach us to offer comfort.
When Jesus stops the funeral procession coming out of the village of Nain; when He steps up to the coffin and touches it; when He encounters the mother of the young dead man, He says exactly the same thing we say. “Do not weep.” Yeah, thanks a whole lot, Jesus! I'm sure she'll appreciate that attempt at comfort. What would Jesus do? He’d offer a cheap platitude to a woman who has lost both her husband and her son.
But something is different. When Jesus tells the woman to cease her mourning, He is not just trying to say something nice. He has the power to do things that we cannot do ourselves. This is not a platitude; this is not cold comfort. This is Jesus. Jesus is the Lord of Life. Jesus is the Man who will die and then rise from the dead. When Jesus says not to weep, He knows death happens because of sin, and Jesus has come to forgive sin. He knows that death causes weeping, and He has come to give life to His people; He has come to wipe the tears of death from our eyes. Jesus has come to stop this death procession. Jesus has come to rob death of this man. So he touches the coffin and tells the man to get up. He gives this young man to his mother! Death is powerless before the Lord.
Paul rightly tells us that the wages of sin is death. So Jesus dies to pay the blood price for our sins. Though death may take us for a time, it cannot hold us forever, for our Lord Jesus rises from the dead on the third day. He has gotten rid of our sins, and that means death has lost its sting. Jesus has given you His victory over death. That happens the moment He drowns you in the waters of Holy Baptism and places you in the arms of your Mother, the Church. At that washing of water and the Word, our Lord’s death and resurrection become yours. Now the only thing to wait for is when He raises you from the dead on the Last Day.
But that's the whole point: the death you will die in this life cannot keep you down. It cannot harm you. It can't separate you from the Father and His love, for Jesus has kicked death in the face. And even though your grave is waiting for you, your grave cannot hold you, for Jesus has defeated the power of the grave by walking out of His own tomb, and He promises that He will bring you out of your grave, too. He will raise you up on the Last Day, and you will live with Him forever! Do not weep. Death cannot hold your loved ones who die in the Lord, and death cannot hold you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.