Psalms 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b
“As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it” (Lk 19:41).
Jesus wept over Jerusalem! This is the city whose inhabitants rejected him – not only the high priests and Pharisees who turned him over to Pilate for crucifixion but also the crowds who supported their leaders urging Pilate to crucify Jesus and to spare the life of the criminal Barabbas.
Jesus’ lament earlier in Luke’s Gospel draws our attention to the poignancy of this moment, ”Jerusalem. Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling” (Lk 13:34). Despite his total rejection by Jerusalem, Jesus’ love for its inhabitants never ceased. Unbelievably he experienced a tender maternal love for its inhabitants – not unlike that of a mother for her offspring!
Yes, Jesus wept. As fully human, he experienced the heartbreak that comes from rejection of loved ones. Later in Luke’s Gospel we get a privileged glimpse into how Jesus handled his heartbreak. We witness Jesus on the Mount of Olives surrendering himself with total dependency to his father. Luke notes he was in such agony that his sweat become like drops of blood. He prayed to his father to remove this cup of suffering. And the Father responded to his prayer -- not by removing the suffering but by sending an angel from heaven to strengthen him!
Book of Revelation was written to comfort early Christians being persecuted for their faith. Recall that the original followers of Jesus were regularly persecuted and martyred for following Jesus. The Book of Revelation was probably written around 95AD to comfort the Christians being martyred by the emperor Domitian. The passage from today’s reading reminds Christians that the Lamb who was also slain is now able by his blood to purchase them for God.
These early Christians had the comfort of knowing that despite the horror of their current situation Jesus, the Lamb of God, was also slain and has gone before them to purchase them for God!
Today’s readings are equally challenging and comforting. They are challenging because God does not protect either Jesus or his followers from persecution and even death; but they are comforting because God never abandons them. Yes, the Lord of history permits the forces of history to run their course -- horrible as the situation may be. But the Lord of history never abandons his followers. Jesus, the Lamb of God, guarantees our ultimate triumph over persecution, suffering, death.
The responsorial Psalm invites us to praise God’s fidelity to the assembly of faithful: “Sing to the Lord a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in their maker. Let the children of Zion rejoice in their king” (Ps 149:1-2).
By Dick Hauser