Grace to you!
I am struck by the graphic description and the emotions expressed by the gospel of Luke chapter 19:41-44 concerning the Lord Jesus as he prophesied the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. “As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41).
A few times, Scripture reports that Jesus wept. In addition to Luke 19:41, there are at least two other instances, namely, at the death of Lazarus his friend (John 11:35) and during the crucifixion (Matthew 27:46).
These show Jesus was truly human. He wept for the loss of a friend, the destruction of his beloved country and the symbol of their faith, and the experience of abandonment at the crucifixion. Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, has been through our deepest wounds. He bears our pains, for he himself was like us in all things but sin (Hebrew 2:17; 4:15). Healing flows by his wounds. His wounds are such that our wounds could be bandaged and healed.
Let’s focus on this instance of Luke 19:41-44. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. The biblical word describing this emotion of Jesus (ἔκλαυσεν - eklausen), expresses an idea of loud, audible weeping. It’s deep and painful. It’s not simply a mild cry. You know the deep cry and pain of losing a loved one; such could be compared to this case.
Why would Jesus weep in this manner? Scripture provides the reason: “If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. 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” (Luke 19:41-44).”
The prophesy of Jesus was fulfilled in AD 70. The temple in Jerusalem was completely decimated by Roman soldiers led by Titus, who later became an emperor, as a response to the four-year revolt of the Jews against Rome.
According to the historian Flavius Josephus, over one million people died and about ninety seven thousand Jews were taken captives. Causes of death included the most gruesome and painful forms of torture, massacre, starvation and emotional trauma.
Jesus the Lord saw what would become of his beloved people and he mourned for them. He mourned too because basking in the glories of the beautiful temple, and neglecting God’s word, the people of Jerusalem felt everything was okay, whereas the boat was sinking. The reason was that they didn’t know that the Messiah was with them. The redeemer has come. Many were simply indifferent.
Sometimes, I contemplate this story and I am horrified. Many times, we take sin lightly and believe it doesn’t matter. What made Jesus to mourn certainly matters.
It does matter that we leave the way of the Lord in pursuance of our self-interests; ignoring where God is calling us to be and the life he has modeled for us.
Would the world, neck-deep in evil, have a pass in the final analysis? Would indifference to God and the voice of conscience be rewarded with a kiss of peace?
I pray that God would give us the grace to realize that celebrating sinful choices is not only terrible for the individual but for society. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.