Memorial of Sts. Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
By KIM ELENEZ
The other day a saw a story online where a woman in a Starbucks drive-thru line paid for the person behind her. Then the next person did the same. Then the next. Then the next. Apparently this went on for 10 hours. Did those people know it had been going on that long? Did they realize they were part of something so big? As the hours went on I’m sure some did, but many probably did not.
Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
In today’s gospel Jesus continues to do His thing. The crowd that accompanied him likely varied from true believers to skeptics waiting to see something happen. Well, they hit the jackpot.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
Also in today’s gospel, a funeral is happening. The crowdthere likely varied from close friends to sympathetic acquaintances. They were not waiting for anything to happen. In fact they were very much stuck in the expectation that nothing would happen. What was done was done, this son was gone and that was that. They were having a very bad, but predictable day.
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Two crowds came together. Strangers with very different expectations, ideas and plans for that day. But the Lord connected them forever through his act of surprise andgrace.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst,”
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.
Once this miracle took place, the gospel tells us that the story spread far. I can imagine the commentary – “The most fascinating thing happened in Nain. Did you hear about it?” And then unlikely but delightful things would continue to happen. Believers were formed. Perhaps people would encounter other people who had already heard about it, and they would look at each other in amazement. A bond would form because they had heard, and they would share different aspects of what they heard, compare notes, etc.
This is a human truth. We walk into many days thinking we know what is about to happen, then inevitably – bam! Something happens that we didn’t see coming. Some days the bam is bigger than others; some days it’s exciting and some disappointing. We bond with unlikely people over these occurrences. It’s unites us in knowing.
Do you think the woman who started that “pay for the guy behind you” coffee chain had any idea what she was starting? Doubtful. Though not even close on the scale of Christ’s miracles, this simple act of surprise and grace had an effect on both the people in line and all who hear the story. We delight in these stories because they remind us of the good of the world and the joy of being connected to each other. A glimmer of Christ’s surprise such as this will unite us and then change us. Inch by inch.
Whether you buy someone’s coffee or something much more significant, what will you do today to seize the opportunity to surprise? Don’t make just random acts of kindness, but rather create frequent acts of grace. Christ performed these glorious miracles for so many reasons;seek ways to share a piece of His grace where ever you can.
This meditation was written by Kim Elenez, wife, mother and media executive in Raleigh, NC. Kim converted to Catholicism in 2012.