23 November 2006

HE WEPT FOR BOTH


Thursday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Lk 14:41-44

The gospel accounts record only two occasions when Jesus wept. One is in our Gospel today. The other is in Jn 11:35. In the Gospel today, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, His city. In Jn 11:35, Jesus wept over Lazarus, His friend. In the first instance, as we are told in the liturgy today, Jesus wept because Jerusalem was bound for destruction and its inhabitants would suffer greatly. In the second, Jesus wept because Lazarus died and he was already four days in the tomb when Jesus arrived. However, while Jesus was able to raise Lazarus back to life, He could not save Jerusalem from the devastation He predicted. While crushing a Jewish revolt, the Romans razed the city in 70 A.D. The Wailing Wall in modern-day Jerusalem stands as its painful reminder for the Jews. Lazarus was raised but Jerusalem was razed. On both occasions, Jesus wept.

The tears that Jesus shed for both Lazarus and Jerusalem were tears of affection. Jesus wept over Lazarus because He came rather late to save him from dying. Nonetheless, the faith of Martha and Mary in Jesus gained for them Jesus’ favor to bring their brother back to life. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He saw beforehand the horrors that would befall it. He could not save Jerusalem because it had no faith in Him. His own city failed to acknowledge Him as the Messiah it had been waiting for since time immemorial. While Jesus shed tears over Lazarus and Jerusalem because He loved them both, His tears for Lazarus were tears of bereavement while His tears for Jerusalem were tears of regret. Jerusalem would be destroyed because, as Jesus Himself says in the Gospel today, “you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

While God does not wish the suffering of anyone, He can only save those who acknowledge their need for Him. He can raise only those who have faith in Him because, as St. Augustine once said, “God who created you without asking you cannot save you without consulting you.”

Jesus weeps over every sinner. But it demands on every sinner if he will be raised or razed.

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