This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 5, 2016.
Immediately following the healing of the Gentile centurion’s slave in Capernaum, Jesus is found in the village of Nain, just five miles from his hometown of Nazareth in Upper Galilee. This story takes Jesus’ healing ministry up a notch. Here he will heal a dead man, demonstrating that neither illness nor even death have power over his messianic ministry. The progression moves from teaching in the Sermon on the Plain to healing in Capernaum to resuscitation in Nain. And the latter anticipates Jesus’ own resurrection to come.
Nain is mentioned only here in the Bible. The widow is Jewish and the death of her only son indicates the end of the family line. This woman is now on her own. Her father and husband are gone, and now her son has died. This grief leaves her not only alone, but also vulnerable. She now will have no family to care for her and will have to depend upon the kindness of her neighbors, since such a woman would have lacked the capacity to provide for her own wellbeing.