Ninth Sunday after Pentecost- Christ Weeping over Jerusalem

‘ Seeing the city, He wept over it.’— ST. LUKl! xix. 41.

I. COMMENTATORS are of opinion that the eyes of Jesus first rested upon the city of His great ancestor, the Prophet-King, at the point where the road from Bethany to Jerusalem sweeps northward round the shoulder of Olivet. Grand and soul-inspiring as that sight must undoubtedly have been, ‘ with the morning sun,’ says Josephus, ‘ glittering so brilliantly upon the white marble and the burnished roofs of the Temple that the spectator had to avert his eyes,’ it nevertheless sent no thrill of delight through the heart of the Man-God, upon this, the day of His triumphal entry into its gates. Seeing the city, He wept and lamented over it, and lifting up His voice He cried aloud : ‘ If thou hadst only known in this thy day the things that are to thy peace ; but now they are hidden from thy eyes.’ What thoughts must have passed through His mind, as with streaming eyes He looked down upon the devoted city, the pride of His nation, while there came crowding back upon His memory all that God had done in ages past to sanctify and to save its people. Prophets and wise men had been sent to warn and to teach them; great kings had been raised up to rule, and mighty warriors to defend them ; yet, with a perversity and a stubbornness that are without parallel in the history of the world, they had, as a rule, rejected the mercies showered so lavishly upon them. At last God had sent to them His only Son. As man, as one of themselves, He had walked in their streets, taught in their Synagogues, and done wonders, to prove His mission. How did they treat Him ? They contradicted, despised, and rejected Him : ‘ They would not have this man to reign over them.’ Therefore, the time of their visitation had passed ; the measure of their iniquities had been filled up ; and the treasury of God’s mercy, in their regard, exhausted. From the mouth of Jesus there consequently proceeded those sad words of lamentation and of prophecy, words which were afterwards so literally fulfilled. Fifty years had not passed away, before the Romans came. They dug a trench about the city, compassed it around on every side, beat it flat to the ground, and left not in it a stone upon a stone.

II. There is, then, as we learn from the mouth of Jesus Christ, both for individuals and for nations, a time of visitation. That is to say, there is a time of mercy and of patient long-suffering, during which God does everything to save man, except force the freedom of his will. But, when that day has passed, the season of mercy comes to an end, and there succeeds to it the time of justice and of judgment. This ought to make you tremble with fear ; for if you look into your heart, you will perhaps see that Jesus has had reason to weep over you, for not having known the time of your visitation. Like Jerusalem, you have been favoured with exceptional graces; for you enjoy privileges which are granted but to few. You are living in College, where your soul is sheltered from many dangers; where you have fixed times for prayer, for frequenting the Sacraments, and for learning all the science of the spiritual life. All evil example is, as far as possible, shut out, and prevented from exercising its baneful influence upon you. There is no one to jeer at, or to make you ashamed of your Religion. You hear nothing that will defile your heart; you see nothing that will bring a blush of shame to your cheeks. Added to all these spiritual advantages, there is that greatest of temporal blessings — a good, sound, solid education, which will fit you to occupy any position in life. What return have you made to God for all these favours and graces? Alas! it happens sometimes that even in the sanctuary of College, there are those who do not know the time of their visitation. They give themselves up to sin, and allow that hideous tyrant to enslave them. They remain deaf to the voice of God, and to the reproaches of their own conscience. They shut their eyes, and will not see ; and therefore the Son of God weeps over them bitter tears, and raises up His voice in sorrowful lamentation. For their enemies have gathered round, and dug about them the trench of evil habits. Very shortly they will rush in upon them, and pollute, set fire to, and destroy the temple of God in their soul. They will beat them flat to the ground, by making them adhere to earthly pleasures, and will leave behind nothing but a wreck of their spiritual being.

III. If, upon examination, you discover that you are one of those ‘ who have not known the time of their visitation,’ do not turn away your eyes from the sorrowful face of Jesus, weeping so bitterly over your wretched state, and impending destruction! Listen with humility and with fear to the threats which fall from His lips. Remember that He does not threaten for ever, but follows up His cry of warning and call to repentance, with a crushing blow, if that merciful call is not listened to. Now is the time to make good what has been done amiss. Now is the time to redeem the past. Now is the time to change those terrible words of Christ into words of warning. When Nineveh had well-nigh filled up the measure of her iniquities, and exhausted the treasury of divine patience and long-suffering, God sent unto her a Prophet, to proclaim in the name of the Lord: ‘ Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed.’ Fear took possession of all hearts.  From the mightiest to the lowliest, they humbled themselves to the dust, and did penance in sackcloth and ashes. Then those prophetic words were changed into a mere threat; for God relented and turned away His indignation from them. So will it be with you. Rise from your sins — break the chain of evil habits, and the wrath of the Lord will be appeased. When the voice of God sounds in your ear, listen to it. When conscience reproaches, hearken to its bitter words. There is health, there is life in them. They will be as a goad to your sluggish will; they will second the efforts of God’s grace, and you will arise, so strengthened in the might of the Lord, that, like Samson, you will burst asunder the bonds that bind you, and walk abroad once again free — free with that freedom wherewith Christ hath made us free. Then will the tears of Christ be changed into tears of glad rejoicing. His threats will become words of praise and encouragement; He will call His Angels to be glad, and rejoice over one other sinner that has returned to Him and done penance.

 

 Taken from – Lectures for Boys

 by Rev. Francis Cuthbert Doyle, 1879

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