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Lectio Divina: “This word”

Lectio Divina: “This word”

Gospel reading: Luke 7.11-17

Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favourably on his people!’ This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.


So many words stand out in this passage:

  • “rise!” and “has risen”, as themes finally brought to full expression in the Resurrection
  • “compassion” that leads to action
  • “Do not weep”, because this is not a time to weep, but a time to laugh (see Ecclesiastes 3.4)
  • “stood still”, echoing Moses’ words to the Israelites fleeing the Egyptians “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still” (Exodus 14.13-14)
  • “touched” and “gave him”, and the embodied way in which Jesus uses touch in his interactions with human beings and grows the connections between them

All are summed up in “This word”. Not just any word, but this word, here, now, for all time.

The two sayings – ‘A great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favourably on his people!’ – are of good news spreading widely, when it is so often bad news that travels fast. The whole passage, the whole Gospel is ‘this word’ that has spread throughout the world, but still needs to be spread, in hidden ways of prayer, overflowing in day-by-day compassionate acts, by and between embodied human beings present to each other.


Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio Divina group on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. These are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.