NOVEMBER 18. Ord Time B. Wk 33. Thu. Lk 19. 41-44
As Jesus drew near Jerusalem and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it and said, ‘If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes! Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you – and all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!’
Notice should be taken of what we are being told in this reading, namely, that Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem, the holy city, where the temple for the worship of God stood proudly. It should have been a location he loved to visit; - but in this instance he was aware of the events that were about to take place.
There is one thing we can be certain of; - the tears he shed were not for his own coming sufferings – but rather because of his love for the city and its people. One of the main teachings about Christ from the gospel is the way he showed compassion to all he came in contact with; - no matter their circumstances; - and the city and people of Jerusalem were no exception.
The time had come for the Son of God to make his entry into the city, but while his faithful followers were singing his praises, it was a procession full of sorrow for the Son of God who was seated on a donkey. He knew their King was about to be rejected and crucified by the very city and people he loved!
The words he speaks here are addressed to that city and its inhabitants; - “If you in your turn had understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes!”
How different the circumstances might have been had the people of the city heeded Christ’s message? All he had asked, at his Baptism three years earlier, was they ‘Repent and believe’ but his message was not understood; - and even now it is still “hidden from your eyes!”
As his message was not heeded it was now necessary he step in and offer divine atonement on behalf of these people who had rejected his teachings; - an act of merciful love that even today continues to be misunderstood and ignored; - the Son of God sacrificing his own life; - motivated by love; - of the very people who had rejected him?
And now we need to listen to the final words he spoke to these people as he entered their city; - “a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you – and all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!”
There were serious implications for those who wished to be members of Christ’s Kingdom as a result of their King offering his life in atonement for their sins; - namely his followers would also have to endure suffering; - and offer their lives, in union with his; - in atonement for the sins of God’s People!
Christ’s message was certainly not understood; - and the consequences of this were about to be played out; - “all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!”
Gospel Acclamation cf.Ps94:8
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
First reading 1 Maccabees 2:15-29
'Heaven preserve us from forsaking the Law and its ordinances'
The commissioners of King Antiochus who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein to make them sacrifice. Many Israelites gathered round them, but Mattathias and his sons drew apart. The king’s commissioners then addressed Mattathias as follows, ‘You are a respected leader, a great man in this town; you have sons and brothers to support you. Be the first to step forward and conform to the king’s decree, as all the nations have done, and the leaders of Judah and the survivors in Jerusalem; you and your sons shall be reckoned among the Friends of the King, you and your sons shall be honoured with gold and silver and many presents.’ Raising his voice, Mattathias retorted, ‘Even if every nation living in the king’s dominions obeys him, each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees, I, my sons and my brothers will still follow the covenant of our ancestors. Heaven preserve us from forsaking the Law and its observances. As for the king’s orders, we will not follow them: we will not swerve from our own religion either to right or to left.’ As he finished speaking, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein as the royal edict required. When Mattathias saw this, he was fired with zeal; stirred to the depth of his being, he gave vent to his legitimate anger, threw himself on the man and slaughtered him on the altar. At the same time he killed the king’s commissioner who was there to enforce the sacrifice, and tore down the altar. In his zeal for the Law he acted as Phinehas did against Zimri son of Salu. Then Mattathias went through the town, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘Let everyone who has a fervour for the Law and takes his stand on the covenant come out and follow me.’ Then he fled with his sons into the hills, leaving all their possessions behind in the town.
At this, many who were concerned for virtue and justice went down to the desert and stayed there.