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Nicholas Leeper S.J.Sep 19, 2023 12:00:00 AM1 min read

19 September 2023

Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

My mom died several years ago from breast cancer. We made the funeral arrangements and had a handful of priests that were going to preside. However, Fr. Carmen, our parish priest, was up in Boston, canceled his trip, and returned to New Jersey just for the funeral. He came and concelebrated the funeral. Fr. Carmen didn’t preach. At the end of the funeral, as the casket was leaving, he simply stopped it, touched and kissed it. At that moment, I felt Christ was kissing my mother’s coffin, saying goodbye. I don’t remember anything from what the preacher said that day, but Fr. Carmen’s simple gesture spoke volumes. It was a decisive moment for me when I felt called to imitate him and to become a priest to love others in the way he served my family.  

            I imagine Jesus in today’s Gospel at Nain (Luke 7:11-17) doing the same thing to the widow’s son’s casket. Christ interrupts the funeral procession to touch the bier. And then the son has new life, and Jesus gives him to his mother. Jesus’s action brought new life to everyone there. The son regains his life, the widow regains her livelihood, and the townspeople glorify God. Jesus did the same thing through Fr. Carmen on the day of my mother’s funeral. He brought life and animated my vocation. In my life, this Gospel story is quite simple but has profound depth. I want to be like Fr. Carmen and Jesus, who have compassion for those who mourn. I hope to return the favor as a priest and show Christ to others in their own loss. I want Jesus to bring life through me as he brought life through Fr. Carmen. Not everyone is called to that particular vocation, but Jesus still calls us all to comfort those who mourn. Where is Jesus asking me to go to be his hands and lips to bring love to lifeless places?