When The Lord saw her, he felt sorry for her. "Do not cry" he said (Luke 7)
Crying, weeping, is an expression of emotion, of grief which we have all experienced. It is something over which, when it has hit us personally, we have little control. When we weep, we do so not because we want to, but because we must.
There are many references to weeping in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament. They are always expressions of loss, of bereavement, the pain humanity bears in every age and in every circumstance when we have lost those we love.
In the Gospels, though, references to weeping are few, and very striking. The first time we hear of weeping is at the terrible slaughter of the innocents, by King Herod. Later we hear of the weeping of those who mourn for the daughter of Jairus, and later still of the women of Jerusalem who weep for him as he carries the cross on the way to Calvary.
In most these cases, like the one in today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the mourners not to weep. He tries to soothe their hearts and quiet their cries.
But there is of course the most famous reference to weeping, the shortest verse in Scripture, and perhaps the most tender, when Jesus hears of the death of his friend, Lazarus. In St John's Gospel (11:35), we are told "Jesus wept". It is a brief statement, with no description, no detail, no elaboration. There are no lightning bolts, no thunderclaps, no voices from heaven, no wailing. Just these two words, We do not need to be told any more than just this. Jesus wept.
And here, in today's Gospel, is another moment. This time it is Jesus speaking to the bereaved mother. And again it is a simple and plain statement. No elaboration, no explanation, no reasoning, no detail. No theological exposition, no meditation on human mortality. Its tenderness is expressed through its brevity.
In both occasions we witness the simplicity and yet the depth of Jesus' compassion. In both cases we are about to witness a great miracle, a miracle of rising from the dead, miracles which point to the great miracle of Jesus' own victory over death. Yet the words which we begin these extraordinary events are simple, and tender and human.
They reveal to us this great truth about our Lord. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. And he has a human heart which is united to his Divinity. A heart which is stirred by the sorrow of the bereaved, by the loss of a loved one, by the death of a friend. A heart which knows our pain and which offers us a hope.
A heart, so full of love, that love is poured out on us all.