Weeping for Enemies

By Sarah Cornwell

Palm Sunday

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 19:41-48

41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 Indeed, 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. 44 They 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; 46 and 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; 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.


St. Luke devotes twice as much space to Jesus pausing to weep over Jerusalem as he does to the far more exciting temple scourging, which immediately follows. Let this emphasis encourage us to pause and consider what our Lord is doing here.

Jesus is on the verge of entering into his Passion, which will culminate in betrayal, humiliation, intense physical torture, abandonment, and, ultimately, execution. Yet, he does not weep for himself. He mourns for the people who will do all these things to him, knowing that great calamity will soon befall them when Jerusalem is largely destroyed in 70 A.D. Where is his outrage on his own behalf? Where is his self-pity? And where is the schadenfreude, that vengeful joy in knowing those who will make him suffer will get their comeuppance?

Contrast this with what we so often feel in our own hearts. When someone wrongs us, do we mourn for that person? If someone twists our words and actions to mean something other than what we intended and responds cruelly either to our face or through an online comment, do we respond in mercy or do we respond in kind? The snarky comeback, or the “sick burn,” has become second nature to us, burning our neighbor on the altar of our souls to appease our own fragile egos. Weeping throws water on the angry fire, and wouldn’t we rather watch our enemy burn?

As we enter into this Holy Week, allow St. Luke to remind us to pause with Jesus and take the time to weep for our enemies, great and small. Only then can we enter a time of cleansing in the right spirit.

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

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Today we pray for:

The Church of North India (United)
Christ & St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, New York, N.Y.


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