The Gospel of Luke plays with time, just as we so often do. Written in a theatrical way it plays with flashbacks and portents like an epic story where the audience is in on all the acts.
Jesus has only just answered the prayer of the Centurian. The prayer that we say at every Mass - 'I am not worthy to have you under my roof but only say the word and my servant will be healed'. The faith of a Gentile; a Roman soldier at that, surprises even Jesus. in a buoyant mood and with the crowd at his heels he enters the next town to be faced with the saddest of sights.
The death of an only son is hard enough but for a widow in a desert town it brought the promise of hardship. Surrounded by sorrowful townsfolk for the moment, their sympathy will go only so far. With no-one to care for her the widow could be forced into destitution or begging.
Is this a moment of fortelling? Does Jesus see his own widowed mother grieving over his own lifeless body in the sadness of the funeral procession? Or is there the simple compassion of knowing that he has the ability to help and so he does.
The mere understatement of the miracle must have been part of the wonder; God truly in the midst of his people.
In the midst of life we can believe we have experienced a miracle; the bringing back to life of what was gone. Whether this is a relationship, a commitment or a life. In those times we speak out joyfully, knowing that God is in our midst.
But, far more often, it is the smaller ways; the tiny acts of faith, friendship, unexpected kindness that also remind us that God is present in our lives. Practicing gratitude, generosity, mindfulness; all acts of faith that the world considers too hard.
In school we discussed miracles and decided that they didn't exist. Then I told them about a miracle I believe happened to me when my daughter was conceived. 'Oh yes' - one of the students had a similar story; then another and another until we all had at least one healing event in our lives that we hadn't expected. A classful of miracles that left us feeling the presence of something powerfully divine.
The story of the son brought to life must have spread throughout the countryside but why not the smaller stories of grace? Like the little house churches that carried the faith wider and farther than the stones of the temple; like the two or three that are all that are needed in the gathering. Be prepared to believe yourself blessed; to believe that coincidences can be miracles; that prayers are answered.
And then, let that faith spread throughout your life.