The Gospel according to Luke (19:41-44)
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.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord help us to look beyond the comforts of this world and strive for the true peace that comes with following your teachings and example. Peace is not the absence of suffering and turmoil; it is the grace we receive when we accept and surrender our lives to you.
Encountering Christ: Have you ever felt so sad for someone you were overwhelmed with emotion to the point you wept? As a parent, grandparent, spouse, friend we have all probably experienced these many times. I can recall weeping bitterly and feeling so helpless when my children made decisions that caused them to suffer. I can also remember times when I made decisions that caused others to suffer as the result of my choices. However, with Christ, there is always the hope of making it through the storm to a better place.
Peace is often mistaken for a time or place that is free of anything that makes us uncomfortable or causes us pain. Who in their right mind would not want to live a life of tranquility and peace without ever experiencing anything unpleasant? Such a place does not exist. Jesus never promised us such a life.
In today’s gospel we experience one of the few times, in scripture, that Jesus weeps. He had brought redemption and salvation to the people of Jerusalem but many rejected or simply did not understand what was at stake and who brought this to them. The consequence of this decision is ominous. The language is frightening. Like all Holy Scripture the message meant for the people of that time is directed to us as well. Do we accept or reject the generous gift that God sent to us when the Son of Man, God made man, came to deliver us from sin and death?
Our journey of faith, our choice to follow Jesus is not a one-time event. There is no point when we can claim we have finished the race, that is, until God calls us home. In the meantime, our conversion is ongoing. It will not end until we take out last breath in our bodies, the temples of our souls.
For us to know peace we must pick up our cross and follow the one who makes our burdens light; he does not to take them away. Our journeys take us through as many dark valleys as they do beautiful mountains. They are filled with sorrow and joy, turmoil and peace. Our struggles and joys and not mutually exclusive, they co-exist. This message in scripture is always in plain sight. Time and time again the people of God, the followers of Jesus forget that the Messiah did not come to establish a kingdom on earth. He came to open the kingdom of heaven to all who accept his gifts of mercy, forgiveness, and eternal life by responding to love with love and sacrifice.
Love came to save us. Remember this the next time you are overwhelmed with emotion because you love someone so much you are moved to tears for want of nothing more than their well-being.
Closing Prayer: Good and gracious God, thank you for loving us so much you hold nothing back. We continue to receive all the gifts we need to live in the peace your son offers that the world cannot give. May we share these gifts with our families, friends, strangers, and especially those who need this peace the most.
Action for the Day: As the time for gatherings of family and friends approaches, we have reason to celebrate. We will also experience the pain of those who are no longer with us. Today make the peace of Christ available by beginning the work and prayer needed to appreciate each other with all of the good and bad, turmoil and peace we each will bring.