Today’s Gospel reading in the Catholic Church is the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. Given the theme of the raising of the dead in church today, the next few passages will address that subject. The first is the story of Elijah raising the widow’s son from the dead:
17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; and his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Eli′jah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her bosom, and carried him up into the upper chamber, where he lodged, and laid him upon his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, hast thou brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s soul come into him again.” 22 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Eli′jah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Eli′jah took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Eli′jah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Eli′jah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
(1 Kings 17:17-24)
Compare that account of a prophet raising someone from the dead with how Jesus accomplishes the same act:
11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Na′in, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
Elijah had to appeal to God to raise the widows’ son. He had not the power himself. Instead, it was only through the intervention of God, acting through Elijah, that the young man was raised from the dead. Elisha likewise, who inherited the station of his mentor Elijah, also had to appeal to God to raise the Shunammite woman’s son. Jesus, however, was under no such restriction. He merely had to say “arise”, and life returned to the dead man. No appeal to God was necessary, because Jesus himself was, is, one with our Father in Heaven. As Jesus explained to Martha:
“I am the resurrection and the life;he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
Despite the obvious differences between what occurred with the prophets and Jesus, the crowd in Nain failed to realize this. They believed Jesus to be a prophet, and yet no prophet could have done what he did. They could not understand that the divine intervention which took place was Jesus Himself. The Resurrection, Life itself, walked amongst them, and they did not understand. They were so set in their ways they couldn’t see God when He was in front of their very eyes. Let us avoid their mistake and, like the man born blind whose eyes were opened by our Savior, see things for what they are, not how we expect or want them to be.