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The Church militant is similar to a widow and progresses through history searching for her divine spouse Jesus Christ, Pope Francis preached in his homily for daily Mass Sept. 17.
The widow of Naim in Scripture is “an icon of the Church, because the Church is in a certain sense a widow,” the Holy Father said at the chapel of the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Marthae, reflecting on the day’s Gospel.
“The Bridegroom is gone and she walks in history, hoping to find him, to meet with him. And she will be his true bride. In the meantime she – the Church – is alone! The Lord is invisible. She has a certain dimension of widowhood.”
Christ’s encounter with the widow of Naim shows that he has “the capacity to suffer with us, to be close to our sufferings and make them his own,” the Pope said, and the Lord “had great compassion” on her.
“The Lord has a special love for widows, he cares for them.”
The Church is like a widow, Pope Francis said, and is “courageous” in defending her children, “like the widow who went to the corrupt judge to (press her rights) and eventually won.”
“Our mother Church is courageous! She has the courage of a woman who knows that her children are her own, and must defend them and bring them to an encounter with her Spouse.”
“She is a Church that, when she is faithful, knows how to cry. When the Church does not cry, something is not right. She weeps for her children, and prays,” he said.
Pope Francis added that the Church continues through history “rearing her children,” and “gives them strength and accompanies them until the final farewell in order to leave them in the hands of her Spouse, who at the end will come to encounter her.”
He said that he sees the Church in the widow of Naim, weeping for her dead son, and that Christ says to the Church: “Do not cry. I am with you, I will accompany you, I will wait for you there, at the wedding feast, the final marriage, that of the Lamb. Stop (your tears), this son of yours was dead, now lives.”
As Christ told the widow’s son to arise, so he tells us to get up “when we are dead because of sin and we are going to ask for pardon.” And when he grants us pardon, the Pope noted, “he returns us to our mother.”
Reconciliation with the Lord is not a matter of only the priest and the penitent, he explained, but it is completed only when Christ returns us to our mother, the Church, because “there is no path of life, there is no pardon, there is no reconciliation outside of mother Church.”
Pope Francis concluded by saying that the day’s Gospel inspires him “to ask the Lord for the grace to be always confident of this ‘Mom’ who defends us, who teaches us, who helps us grow and to speak the dialect” of orthodoxy and catechism.
Originally published at Catholic News Agency on 17 September 2013. Used with permission. All other rights reserved.