REFLECTION FOR TODAY
November 18, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Lk. 19:43-44
Jesus weeps over the forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem. It is said that real men aren’t supposed to cry in public, but Jesus did. Jesus wept on two occasions in the gospel, at the tomb of Lazarus and upon seeing the city of Jerusalem. Jesus spoke these words in our gospel reference above as He wept and gazed upon the Holy City of Jerusalem from a distance. Jesus came to Jerusalem offering the people true liberation and a peace that no earthly ruler could give, pardon from sin and reconciliation with God, but the people were not ready for it.
When Jesus wept over the city, it wasn’t primarily tears over the future physical destruction of the Temple and invasion by Roman forces. It was first and foremost tears over the lack of faith of so many which was the true destruction He mourned. Jerusalem derived its name from the Hebrew word for peace – Salem. instead of an eager, grateful welcome of Jesus, He was greeted with indifference and disbelief. At the time of Jesus, the city of Jerusalem was indeed sieged by the military commander Titus in the year 70 A.D. Titus was acting under the authority of his father, the emperor, and destroyed not only the Temple but also much of the city itself, as well as the Jewish inhabitants.
So, as Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem, to enter the Temple one last time to offer His life as the definitive Sacrificial Lamb for the salvation of the world, Jesus knew that many within this holy city would not accept His saving sacrifice. He knew that many within that city would become the instruments of His pending death and would have no remorse for killing the Savior of the World.
The words and reaction of Jesus should not be misunderstood as fear, anger, or disgust, rather, His reaction was holy sorrow. He wept over the city and its inhabitants despite what many of them would soon do to Him. As Christians, do we know what makes for peace? The peace Jesus offers is more than the absence of conflict and war. It is the liberation from the bondage to fear prejudice, hate, and resentment. It is the freedom from sin.
As Christians, when we suffer injustice, how do we react? Do we lash out? Condemn? Get defensive? Or do we imitate Jesus and allow your soul to be filled with holy sorrow? Holy sorrow is an act of love and is the appropriate Christian response to persecution and injustice. Too often, however, our response is not holy sorrow but anger. The problem with this is that reacting in unholy anger does not accomplish anything good. It does not help us to imitate Jesus, and it doesn’t help those with whom we are angry.
Reflect, today, upon your own approach to the evil you face in your life. Consider carefully your interior and exterior reaction. Do you mourn with love over sins you witness and experience? Do you mourn, with a holy sorrow, over your own sins and the sins of others? Work to foster this form of love within you and you will find that it can become a motivation for you to help transform the sins you commit and the sins of others you endure.
Lord, You endured the sins of many. You were treated with cruelty and injustice. To all of these sins, including those that you foresaw, You reacted with the love of holy sorrow. And that sorrow led you to true compassion and concern for all. Please give me the grace to imitate this same love of Yours so that I, too, may share in the holiness of Your sorrowful heart. Jesus, I trust in You.