Jerusalem: the Great Paradox

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

Jerusalem, Jerusalem … how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling.
(Luke 13:34)

Jerusalem was predicted
As a city devastated.
But here Jesus resurrected,
And here Satan was defeated.

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 keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you 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 unwilling. 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

The greatest paradox in human history (as we read it in the Bible) is that the Jews were the Chosen People of God, and yet they must be the most persecuted nation in the whole human race. One only has to recall how they were almost annihilated by Hitler’s Nazi Germany in World War II. As the people hated by the Christian world for rejecting and even causing the death of our Savior, the Jews were always portrayed in a bad light, as in the character of Shylock, the villain in William Shakespeare’s play, “Merchant of Venice”.

The words of Jesus, “you kill the prophets and stone those sent to you” were clearly an indictment of the Jews in general, and yet He continued with, “How I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” This clearly showed His fondness for Jerusalem. Ominously, Jesus had also said, “The first shall be last”, and so the nation of Israel seems to have been left by time because of its people’s intransigence. While the whole world has been saved, because the Messiah has resurrected and His Good News has spread to the rest of the world, the Jews remain waiting in futility for the Messiah, Who had already risen and ascended into heaven.

Although Jesus loved Jerusalem, the city of His fond memories, He could not save it from its own destruction, since the people refused to accept Him as the Messiah. Being omniscient, He foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by the Romans in AD 70. He also knew that for the next thousands of years, this city would continue to be be torn by strife, as we see it still happening up to the present time in the conflicts between the Jews and the Palestinians, and most of the Arab nations surrounding Israel.

Jesus gave fair warning to the Jews and to all who care to listen. He said, “You will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Perhaps in time the Jews will receive the hope of salvation, by simply acknowledging that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. St. Paul echoed this when he wrote: “I consider that the suffering of our present life cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed and given to us” (Rom.8:18). Like the Chosen People, all of us must undergo various trials and sufferings in this life, but we have hope that “nothing can separate us from the love of God, which we have in Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Rom.8:39).

Dear God, as Jesus promised to all who consider themselves His flock, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” It is in Your Name that we have placed our hope of salvation, so please grant us the grace to be steadfast in our faith until the end. Amen.

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