Moved from His Inward Parts: Jesus’s Human and Divine Compassion in the Gospel of Luke

  • Gerald E. Nora Catholic Theological Union
Keywords: Luke, Compassion, splagchnizomai, bowels, Benedictus, Nain, Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son


In the Raising of the Widow’s Son at Nain (Lk 7:11-17), the Evangelist describes Jesus as moved by compassion when he sees a widow mourning the loss of her only son.  This is an unusual description of Jesus’s emotions in Luke’s Gospel.  Of the twenty-one signs and miracles in Luke’s Gospel, it is the only instance when we are told Jesus’s feelings.  This article proposes that the Evangelist intended Jesus’s emotion at Nain to signal an important prophetic fulfillment as well as to introduce an important literary motif for Luke’s theology of love.  A story that is rarely included in the Church’s Sunday readings, the miracle at Nain was written to unite three prominent liturgical readings from Luke’s Gospel: the Benedictus, the Good Samaritan, and the Prodigal Son.   If its meaning and context are recovered, Jesus’s compassion at Nain will amplify our understanding of these prominent passages and enable a more effective evangelization from Luke’s Gospel.

Author Biography

Gerald E. Nora, Catholic Theological Union
A permanent deacon with the Archdiocese of Chicago, Gerald E. Nora is pursuing a research degree in New Testament Theology. He received a B.A. (Philosophy) and J.D. from Georgetown University and an M.L.A. from The University of Chicago. A former trial lawyer, Deacon Nora currently works in hospital chaplaincy and spiritual direction. He is assigned to St. Mary of Vernon Parish in Indian Creek, IL. Gerald and his wife Patricia have four children and seven grandchildren.