By Michael Fitzpatrick
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 19:41-48
41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
45 Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; 46and he said, “It is written,
‘My house shall be a house of prayer’;
but you have made it a den of robbers.”
47 Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; 48but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.
Yesterday I wrote about the celebration of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, honored as the rightful king and Messiah of God. What a plot twist the next few verses bring. As Jesus descends towards the city of Jerusalem where the temple of the most high God still stands, he weeps. His tears for the city anticipate its people’s coming rejection of God’s true Messiah. He loves this people, enough to die at their hand, and his love produces great mourning for their fate.
I’m especially struck by the first sentence Jesus utters in his lament: “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace!” Might these words be said across human civilizations, and even to us Westerners today? Our wars, our partisan strife, our distrust of neighbors, our terrorism — one would think conflict is our basic state of being. Would that we knew the things that make for peace!
As Christians, we take Jesus to be that Prince of Peace, the bearer of those things that can produce reconciliation between person and person, between nation and nation, and most importantly, between humans and God. Taking Christ’s lament to heart, how might we as Christians live for the things that make for peace? Perhaps it begins with loving that which God loves: those we call enemies, the environment we pollute, the beasts of the field and birds of the air with whom we share the earth. By learning how to let our hearts break, to shed tears with Christ, we can live each day for the salvation of a world that does not know the things that make for peace.
Michael Fitzpatrick is a doctoral student in philosophy at Stanford University. He attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, Calif., where he serves as a lay preacher and teacher.
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Today we pray for:
Diocese of Sebei (Uganda), the Rt. Rev. Paul Kiptoo Masaba
Diocese of Eastern Kowloon (Hong Kong), the Rt. Rev. Timothy Kwok
Diocese of Kyushu (Japan), the Rt. Rev. Luke Ken-ichi Muto
Church of St. John the Divine, Houston, Texas