Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Widowhood of Humanity ~ Sexagesima Sunday

ON THE OLD CALENDAR IT IS SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY  ~ roughly sixty days before Easter. It was (is) a time of ready-ing. Again the liturgical texts of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours offer many themes which help to raise awareness of humanity's bereft and wretched condition. The world needs a remedy.

Here is a wall icon of the Gospel account of the Raising of the Widow's son at Nain, (Luke 7:11-17) Pulling her hair, the poor widowed mother is beside herself with grief. She has lost not only her husband, but now her provider-son is gone too. Jesus, ever attentive, speaks to her and restores not only the boy but the woman herself.

She is an image of humanity's widowhood - the world in its mournful lament, the world weeping in loneliness. There is more, as the widow, and doubly so with the death of her only son, was now at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder and pressed to the societal margins. She images the persons, families, cultures, nations, kinds of persons in social devastation and crisis, outcasts, despised, without support, adrift, disillusioned, without joy.

And when the Lord saw her, he pitied her, and said to her, "Do not weep." And he went up and touched the bier, and the bearers stopped. And he said, "Young man, I tell you, wake up!" And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and he gave him back to his mother (Lk 7:13,14)

Jesus touched the bier - that's the stretcher or stand on which the corpse is carried before burial. God in Christ steps up to and then touches this world (the planet AND my personal world) in its most desperate place. There is no place God will not go to retrieve us for the promise of his life.

Notice that Jesus' first response is to the frenzied, devastated mother, and then to the son. And while there is no reason to deny or minimize the historicity of this event, as some are wont to do these days, all the more, the account is about each of us and all of us in our human condition of reduction, marginalization, inner poverty and loss. And our answer to this is Easter; it is sixty days away!

Secondarily, the number sixty signifies time. There are sixty seconds to a minute. There are sixty minutes to an hour. It means perhaps, we don't have forever. I don't have forever to reconcile. I don't have forever to use this gift. I don't have forever to work on this addiction. I don't have forever to pray. I don't have forever to heal this inner wound. I don't have forever to get a real loving heart.


  1. The last paragraph is most significant to me. We don't have forever. Words were never more true. If not now, then when? This time of year is the perfect time to do something. Easter is coming and we should take care of the things that keep us from accepting God's graces with open hearts.

  2. Sometimes a single sentence, that comes at the right moment, can change someone's perspective on life. This is how I felt when I read these words. I don't have forever to heal this inner wound. I am absorbing their meaning and realize how true they are.