Early yesterday morning, a twenty-nine-year-old man, full of hatred and armed to the teeth, walked into the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, and proceeded to murder fifty people and wound scores more. It is the most devastating mass shooting in American history. It specifically targeted the LGBT community.
In 2003, author Dan Brown published his sensationalistic novel The DaVinci Code, and three years later the book was followed by a movie of the same title starring Tom Hanks. The DaVinci Code caused controversy by its supposition that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, who then bore him children. Because of this storyline, interest in the person of Mary Magdalene spiked.
Biblical scholar Alan Culpepper says this about today’s Gospel reading: “The widow’s only son had died. We do not know their names, his age, or the cause of his death. In the end, none of that matters—only that she had already lost her husband and now she has lost her only child. James says, ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress.’ Had Jesus passed by that funeral procession on the other side when he had the power to stop it, none of his other works would have made much difference. If religion has nothing to say to a grieving widow, it has nothing to say.”[i]