The Paradox of Jerusalem

Luke 13: 31-35
Rom 8:31b-39 / Psa 109

I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
(Luke 13:35)

Don’t test God’s patience and mercy,
Even Jerusalem was not spared;
It would be a great tragedy
To ignore the lessons Christ has shared.

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” (Luke 13: 31-35)

Reflection

Jesus naturally loved Jerusalem, the city of His fond memories. But He could not save it from its own destruction because the people refused to accept Him as the Messiah, even as He knew (being omniscient) that this city would for the next thousands of years be torn by strife– “Look, your house is left to you desolate” — as we see it still happening today in the continuing war between the Jews and the Palestinians and other Arab nations.

The great paradox of human history is that in spite of God’s fondness for Jerusalem, which is not only the center of Jewish history, but the culminating point of man’s salvation, it has been left by time because of its people’s recalcitrance in accepting Jesus as the Messiah (“The first shall be last”). Jerusalem was (and still is) a sacred city, the seat of the great religions. Here the whole world has been saved, because the Messiah resurrected here, and His Good News has spread to the rest of mankind. The greater paradox is that here, the great deceiver had been deceived, because he thought that Jerusalem was the only place that mattered, since it was here that the Savior would be put to death. But it was also here that the birth of the unifying Church would take place (in Pentecost). Like the Messiah, Jerusalem the beloved city would also be sacrificed for the salvation of the whole world.

As Jesus promised to all who consider themselves true Christians, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” We are saved because we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We come in His Name, bearing the Good News of God’s kingdom. At the same time, today’s Gospel passage bears an underlying message that there is hope even for those who were responsible for the death of our Savior. The Pharisees, traditionally opposed to Jesus, came to warn Him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” Clearly, this shows that not all of them were Jesus’ enemies. And as our Lord Himself said, “O Jerusalem. . . how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” Like a mother hen, God warns and postpones His judgment hoping that one day His beloved children may respond in obedience and be saved. God’s judgment is tempered with patience and mercy. There is still hope that the wayward Jews (as well as the sinners today) will one day realize their error and repent before it is too late. The greater tragedy would be that after everything that God has done, they still choose to turn a deaf ear, and face the Final Judgment.

Almighty and loving God, grant our people the grace to see that repentance is all that we need in order to reform our ways, and our country may not be left desolate and divided, as what happened to Jerusalem. As the conflict rages in the southern part of our country, we ask You to gather us under your wings of protection. Amen.

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