Ninth Sunday after Pentecost- Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem
NINTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
GOSPEL. Luke xix, 41-47. At that time: When Jesus drew near Jerusalem, seeing the city, he wept over it saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace, but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee: and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round: and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee, and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. And entering into the temple, he began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, saying to them: It is written: My house is the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves. And he was teaching daily in the temple.
JESUS WEEPS OVER JERUSALEM
The time was near at hand when the Saviour of the world was to suffer for mankind: when the occurrences took place which are related in the gospel of this day. Our Lord was coming from Bethany and going to Jerusalem; He was to suffer the death of the cross for fallen man.
The news soon spread through the city that Jesus, the great prophet, was about to enter the town, and great was the stir that this news produced. The people came in crowds to the city gates; with palm branches in their hands they met Him, and cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And wherever He passed they spread a carpet of trees, green leaves, and flowers; they even spread their garments on the ground that He might walk on them. Everything and everybody had put on a festive appearance, and great joy was manifested by all at this public entry into Jerusalem. But, wonderful to relate, Our Lord was not filled with joy at this triumphal entry. He was sad; tears fell from His eyes. Why was this? Because He saw that in a few days this very multitude of people would reject Him; now they believed in Him, but soon they would lose their faith and cry out for His crucifixion. He remembered the many miracles He had wrought, the many kindnesses and graces He had bestowed on them, and the black ingratitude they gave Him in return for all He had done; and this came so vividly to His mind that He wept over the city.
Just as Jesus wept over that ungrateful city of Jerusalem, is He pressed to weep over many Christians, and over the growing generation of young people. Can it be that there are people who make Jesus weep over them? Yes, indeed, and many even among us grown people; we are so easily led astray that the sufferings of Our Lord count as nothing to us. There are many who care nothing for His graces and favors, who disregard, outrage, and offend Him. Who is there that has not committed sin? And if you have sinned you are the cause of the tears of Our Lord; and if you have sinned often, so often have you made Him say: “I have brought up children and exalted them, but they have despised Me.” I have brought up children and given them so many manifestations of My goodness both in the spiritual and natural order, and now that they have grown up they refuse to serve Me; they are worse than the children of infidels. They are the children of the Church, fed by the Bread of angels, and yet they have all the vices of those that are totally ignorant of Me. The old bishop, St. Polycarp, was accused at the tribunal of the proconsul of being a follower of Christ; and neither by prayers nor threats could his persecutors make him deny his faith. Finally the Proconsul proposed that if Polycarp would pretend to blaspheme the name of Jesus, he should not only be allowed to go back to his see, but there should also be heaped on him honors and riches. To this the old bishop answered: “Eighty-six years have I served the Lord, and during all that time He never did me any wrong; on the contrary He has shown me many favors. Is it reasonable that I should deny my Lord?” In the meantime the stake at which he was bound was set on fire, and Polycarp, full of joy, died a Martyr’s death.
You ought to do the same thing; when the occasion of sin presents itself, you, too, ought to say, “God has never done me any injury; on the contrary He has heaped on me many benefits; how can I be so ungrateful as to disobey Him?”
Our Lord and Redeemer, with tears in His eyes, said of the Jews: “Jerusalem, if thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace, but now they are hidden from thy eyes!” Indeed the Jews did not know the graces which Our Lord had offered them. He offered them conversion, but by their own fault and malice they refused to listen to Him.
By miracles, by prophecies, and by His own words proved from the Old Testament, Our Lord demonstrated that He was the promised Redeemer; but the Jews did not want to know it and closed their eyes to all evidence. This made them unworthy of any extraordinary graces by which their eyes might be opened to the truth. The same thing happens to us when we obstinately refuse grace. “They have eyes and see not, ears and hear not.” We abuse the graces given to us, and it is our own fault if we are abandoned to our obstinacy and self-will. When the sinner falls into this dreadful state by his own fault, he makes no effort to arouse himself from his fatal sleep. The ministers of God try to bring him to his senses by prayer, by preaching, by kind and loving threats of the eternal punishment, of the Last Judgment, but he remains obstinate; friends and parents will give advice, but all to no purpose. His heart is hardened. Salutary punishments come upon him in this life, sickness, troubles, mishaps of all kinds, but he will not see that they are meant as graces. Almighty God, seeing that all chastisements and blandishments are in vain, will say, “I have ordered your destruction because you have not profited by My visitation. ‘Thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.’ From henceforth I abandon you, no more will you feel My kind reprimands, no more will light be sent to you, you will fall deeper and deeper; you will die in your obstinacy and come before My judgment-seat, when you will hear Me condemn you to everlasting torment.”
Have a care, my dear young friends, not to deserve this severe sentence. Jerusalem was a city dear to Our Lord. What a fair city, a picture of the heavenly Jerusalem, would she have been, prominent on the beautiful hills of Palestine, had she acknowledged the Lord! “What should I have done for My vineyard, and I have not done it?” Yes, the greater the graces which God has bestowed on you, the greater should be your efforts to correspond to them. You have been like favorite children, who have received many kindnesses; but you disobeyed God and defiled your sacred bodies by abominable sins. Could not Our Lord say, “If youths less favored than you had done this, I should not wonder, but that you, after so much kindness, should do it, I will not overlook.”
When the sinner is thus abandoned by God, the same dreadful ruin will happen to him as was foretold of Jerusalem: “For the days shall come upon thee: and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round: and straiten thee on every side: and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee, and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone.”
Voices were heard in the Temple, shortly before its destruction, “Let us go away from here, let us leave this place.” The angels shall fly; the devils will gather about in numbers; then will be terror and fear of what is to come. The sinner will cry out for mercy, but the Lord will no longer listen to his lamentation. His cries do not proceed from a penitent heart, but from the anguish of despair. Did not almighty God give you sufficient caution all your lifetime, did He not say that lie would let you die in sin? The hour has now arrived. Hear Him say: “For a long time you did not think of Me, neither will I turn My thoughts on thee: I leave you now in the power of Satan, to whom you have given your body and soul, and whose bidding you were so anxious to do.”
If you are in the state of mortal sin, be converted, turn not a deaf ear on God. “Now is the time of your salvation. This may perhaps be your last chance. You have been deaf to God through your life, and God will be deaf to you at your death.” This was the salute which a saint gave to a great sinner whom he met; he had often tried to convert him, but all in vain, and these were the last words he spoke to him.
When Our Lord came into Jerusalem on the day of His triumphal entry He went directly to the Temple to preach to those who had welcomed Him. When He reached there He found a great bustle going on; people were buying and selling in this place consecrated exclusively to the worship of God. Our Lord was angry and, making a scourge of ropes, He chased the wretches from the Temple, saying: “My house is the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” Our Lord appeared severe to all who saw Him, but He wished to impress on their minds a very salutary lesson: scrupulous respect for the house of God. The good Jesus, who on all occasions was so mild and so meek, that He said of Himself, “Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart,” was indignant. The zeal of the Lord glowed in His soul and He arose in His might and chased the buyers and sellers from the sacred place. Should Our Lord come personally into our churches, what would be His conduct toward some of us, my dear young friends? He would there find His wrath rising within Him, and would chastise those whom He found there; or drive out of the house of God young people who, instead of praying, talk, laugh, and ridicule their neighbors. The house of God is the house of prayer, and should not be used in any other way. Remember what St. Paul says: “If any man violates the temple of God, him shall God destroy.”
Let us learn, then, from this severe act of Our Lord how necessary is respect for the place of His habitation on earth. Enter with faith, keeping vividly before your mind that Christ is really present; that this is the great palace of the King of heaven and earth, and that if we would behave in a respectful manner in the palaces of the great of this world, so we should also act, but with more seriousness, in the house of God. Enter it with fear and trembling, for God is there and naturally you should fall on your face in prayer and adoration; enter it as the angels would, who come before the face of Jesus with a fervent love for Him.