As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “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)
Will you walk with me through this scene from scripture? I hope you will. Because it is a vivid image of where we are today.
The eyes of Jesus Christ which have seen the forming and founding of creation are glazed over with tears. Heavy, glistening drops fall gently on his beard. Perhaps we know of this event because the Apostles witnessed and later recounted it. What must it have been for them to see their Master weep? What insight into his heart did it give them?
“If this day you only knew what makes for peace.”
He desires peace for us. Did his Apostles learn that God comes to heal, not to break; that he wishes for our wholeness, even if it means passing first through suffering, as Christ himself would do?
When Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the multitude of homes surrounding the holy temple, he wept over it because its inhabitants did not “know the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:42). As he poured out his heart to the Father in heaven, Jesus shed tears of sorrow, grief, and mourning for his people. He knew that he would soon pour out his blood for the people of Jerusalem and for the whole world as well.
Is it really much different today? Throughout the world we see nations, including the United States, that have moved away from the concept of peace. Worse yet, they have embraced something far worse. Citizens have embraced a culture of anger. An evil that rots the soul and moves us away from the peace that Jesus desires for us. That stands in opposition to his teachings.
Too many have closed their hearts to the light of his peace. When we close our hearts, darkness ensues. When darkness ensues, the evil one finds a habitat that he loves.
So, I must ask. Are you standing on the abyss of anger? Are you willing to slide down the slippery slope of anger, bigotry, discrimination? Are you now forsaking and setting aside friends and neighbors because they do not share your beliefs? Are you wrapping your political beliefs around you as if they were a shield that you are prepared to carry into battle? Are you closing your heart to the peace of Jesus Christ?
Is it wrong to embrace political beliefs? Of course not. It is only wrong when those beliefs take away the path of peace which he trod for us.
Stop and think about his tears. There is not one of us who can profess to be his follower if we are carrying anger within. Angry words, angry chants, vile gestures, threats of violence have no place in his kingdom. There is nothing that can justify their place in our lives if we want to call ourselves Christians.
What is the alternative if your passion for politics has become central to your beliefs? Pursue those politics. Promote those politics. But not in a way that betrays a closed heart. Not in a way that legitimizes evil words and actions.
Grasp and hold close the reality of the Christian faith. Jesus is the hope of the world because he is the only one who can truly reconcile us with God and with one another. Through his death and resurrection Jesus breaks down the walls of hostility and division by reconciling us with God. He gives us his Holy Spirit both to purify us and restore us as a holy people of God. Through Jesus Christ we become living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
The people of Jerusalem believed they had all the answers. They waited only for their version of the Messiah. One would be a warrior and wrest control of their city and restore it to them as they wanted. The people of Jerusalem were content with their way of life and did not need the Lord: they failed to realize that they needed salvation
We need to grasp that Jesus weeps copiously for us when we don’t really let him into our lives to bring us the fullness of peace, he wishes to give us. But then we also need to enter into his tears and weep with him for all those who similarly do not open up their hearts to him, who refuse or reject his peace, his presence, his grace, his sacraments, his word, his brother or sister.
We Christians don’t ponder enough Jesus’ tears and don’t weep enough with him, not just for the hardened sinners far from the Lord, but also for those who believe themselves to be close to him but who out of stubbornness don’t allow Jesus to change them for the better because they don’t want to be disturbed.
Today is a day in which we first confront the possibility that Jesus has been weeping for us because we yet haven’t fully responded to his call to become saints, because we have not yet really meant the words we’ve prayed thousands of times, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
And we weep because so many others haven’t prayed them at all or like us fully willed God’s kingdom and will to be done over theirs.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you have visited and redeemed your people. May I not miss the grace of your visitation today as you move to bring your people into greater righteousness and holiness of life. Purify my heart and mind that I may I understand your ways and conform my life more fully to your will”.
We need to ask ourselves whether Jesus would be weeping over the United States, over the world. It’s easy for us to point to many who are living lives clearly contrary to the ways of God. Those who don’t recognize the continuation of Jesus’ incarnation in people’s lives. But what about those of us who, like the ancient Jews in Jerusalem, think ourselves religious? Do we grasp what makes for peace and how the Lord has come to visit us? We sing “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts,” and the reality is that many times the inner ears of our heart are closed to God’s voice calling us to conversion and holiness.