No Peace for Jerusalem

Luke 19: 41-44
1 Mc 2:15-29 / Psa 50

If you had only known on this day what would bring you peace. . .
(Luke 19:41)

For those who still refuse to believe,
Peace is as elusive as a hind;
But followers of Christ gladly give
His gifts of faith, love and peace of mind.

As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will build a palisade against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone upon another within you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)


Jesus knew before it would happen seventy years later that Jerusalem, the city that He loved, would be destroyed by the Romans. The scene in His mind must have been so vivid and horrific that it moved Him to tears. But what really made Him weep must have been His deep sense of frustration that the impending doom was beyond His power to prevent, because He had also foreseen His total rejection by the Jews, to the point of bringing a curse upon themselves. When Pilate washed his hands “of this man’s blood” after realizing that the crowd of Jews wanted Jesus crucified, the whole people cried out, “His blood be upon us and upon our children!” (Mt.27:24-25). The “karmic” consequence of their choice (between Jesus and Barabas) was their free will, and God would not or could not influence their decision.

Jesus said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” By rejecting and even condemning to death the Prince of Peace, the Jews from that time on, even up to the present day, would never see real peace reign in their land. How ironic that a part of the word Jerusalem (“salem”) stands for “peace”.

The lessons that we can learn from this short Gospel passage are many. First of all, we see a loving God in Jesus, full of mercy and compassion, even for the people that He knew would condemn and crucify Him. Secondly, God knows the future, but will never prevent, influence or change it, even if He can, because He respects our free will. Jesus cried not out of regret, but out of sorrow for the Jews’ intransigence. He pleaded for sinners to repent, and when they refused, He could only weep for the loss of their souls. Finally, Divine Justice will come to pass, just as eternal reward will be given to the just. We see here that God has no favorites when He metes out His justice. Even as His “Chosen People” were severely punished, unbelievers were called and converted. As St. John wrote in his gospel, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (Jn.1:11-12).

We praise and thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving us the gift of faith, and for showing us the way to achieve peace here on earth, and the hope of eternal bliss in Your kingdom. May the Holy Spirit be with us always, so that we may be steadfast in our mission to bring others to Your loving and peaceful assembly. Amen.

“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” (Psalm 1:6)

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