Sunday, August 14, 2011
The 9th Sunday after Pentecost
My dear faithful:
Today’s Gospel story is not a happy one. It starts by describing the scene of Our Lord’s last solemn entry into Jerusalem. As he passed over the top of a hill and saw the city spread out before him, he stops. His disciples stand by his side and look in turn at their Lord and his Holy City. This Jerusalem, so great in its magnificence before them, with its holy Temple built by Solomon and rebuilt by the Machabees, its great walls, its marble palaces. The culmination of thousands of years of what should have been a beautiful covenant between God and man. Between God and his people. His chosen people. That Hebrew race which he had elected from all the peoples of the earth to be his special people.
When the disciples turned their eyes from this splendid sight back to their Lord, did they expect to see a look of pride and satisfaction in his face? What must have been their feelings then, as they see their Saviour’s eyes fill slowly with tears, as he gives way to silent heart-rending weeping? What a bitter disappointment his people had become!
On Good Friday, as we creep to the Cross in humble adoration, the choir sings what are called the Reproaches. These are meant to be the words of Our Lord as he thinks back on all the good things he had given his chosen people, and what they had given him back in return. “I led you out of Egypt, From slavery I set you free. I brought you into a land of promise: You have prepared a cross for me. “
These must have been the thoughts of Jesus that day as he looked over his beloved Holy City of Sion, knowing full well that he had given them everything. And in return they are preparing for him a most cruel death on the Cross. And yet this is not the answer why he wept. No, my dear faithful, Our beloved Saviour wept that day, not for himself, but for his people. He wept not because he foresaw his own most bitter Agony and Passion, but because he foresaw theirs. “For the days shall come upon thee,” he tells them, “that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another.” Shortly after, they crucified Our Lord outside the walls of that very city. And then within the selfsame generation, the Romans came, the Emperors Titus and Vespasian—they laid siege to the holy city and razed it to the ground. Truly not one stone was left upon another, and the death toll was unimaginable.
My dear faithful, God himself chose the Jews to be his people. But they failed him. And Jesus wept. Wept in compassion because they knew not the hour of their visitation. They did not recognize their Messiah. The Church reminds us of this every single day at Mass in the Last Gospel: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
Our Lord weeps for his chosen people out of compassion because he knows their fate. Not just the hundreds of millions of dead, butchered over the centuries in fulfillment of their call that the blood of Jesus be upon them and upon their children. But their true fate, the everlasting damnation of those who knew not the hour of their visitation. Time and again, Our Lord had said in his sermons: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen does gather her chickens under her wings! But thou wouldst not!”
My dear brethren, how terrible, how dreadful, these little words sound from the lips of the Saviour: “But thou wouldst not!” That is the most dreadful thing Jesus, our future Judge, could say of a soul or of a people: But thou wouldst not! What more could Christ have done for his people at the time of his visitation? Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Daily you heard his voice. He healed your sick. He took your children into his arms and pressed them to his Heart. He raised your dead to life again. He preached in your Temple and in your market-places. He instructed. He warned. He threatened. “But thou wouldst not!”
And so Our Lord wept over Jerusalem before entering the city. When he got there, what did he do? He went straight into the Temple, took out a whip, and started whipping and beating those who were there selling, desecrating the Holy House of God. And there’s a message here for us, and to explain it, I just need to go back for a second to the history of the Jewish people after Titus and Vespasian destroyed the city thirty or so years later.
After the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews were then dispersed throughout the world and it was prophesied that never again would there be a Jewish homeland until the latter days, when the return of the Jews to Sion would be a sign that the Kingdom of God is at hand. My dear faithful, the Hebrew people have already returned to Sion. They returned in 1948 and declared it once again a Jewish state. And a mere ten years later the last true Vicar of Christ, His Holiness Pope Pius XII, breathed forth his last breath upon this earth in that other holy city of Rome. His successor called the Second Vatican Council, and there took place the general apostasy of the entire Church. The Church in which Christ promised to abide even unto the end of time.
So it seems we are arriving at that time of history where Our Blessed Lord is standing on one of the seven hills of that Holy City, Rome, overlooking his beloved Church, the Church he founded upon St. Peter. He is looking down upon the Vatican City with its lovely buildings, its fine paintings and sculptures, its gilded candlesticks and its centuries of the best that human civilization is capable. The great gifts he has given us! But he doesn’t look at all that. He looks through it and beyond it, into the souls of those Defenders of the Faith who sit in Rome and rule that Church today. Look from this great scene of unimaginable splendor and back to the face of our beloved Saviour. Do you think he is looking at all this with pride and satisfaction? My dear faithful, he is weeping again.
And when he enters Rome at his Solemn Coming, where will he go, if not into those great churches where the Abomination of Desolation, the New Mass, the false Faith of Vatican II, has been given pride of place? And what will he do if not drive out with whips those who dared to do this unto the House of God?
And finally, ask yourself the question: Does his gaze stop there at those who rule the Church? Or does it continue into the hearts and souls and minds of every one of his children? Is he looking now into your soul? And if so, is he weeping still? Have you ever seen that picture by Holman Hunt of Our Lord standing at the door knocking? “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” Notice there is no knob or handle on the outside of the door. It can be opened only from the inside. Our Lord does not force us with his graces. It is up to us to correspond with them. To open the door when Our Lord knocks. To invite him into our hearts and souls. Let us do this now as we prepare ourselves to receive him in Holy Communion. Let us welcome him and allow him to gather us as a hen gathers her chickens. And let us earnestly pray Our Blessed Mother that we may never be found deserving of those dreadful words from the lips of her Son: “But thou wouldst not!”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.