If Only You Knew
As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If this day you only knew what makes for peace…Luke 19:41-44l
In this short passage of Luke’s gospel, we read that Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. His lament immediately follows his triumphant entry into the city. He looks out at the sweeping vista and predicts total destruction.
Jesus is filled with emotion over the city he loves so dearly. He foretells that enemies of Jerusalem will encircle the city and that not a single stone will be left in its place. Indeed, in 70 CE, Roman troops “hemmed” Jerusalem “on all sides” before besieging and devastating the city and razing the Temple to the ground. The only stones to survive were those of the western retaining wall; everything else was gone.
Jesus weeps because Jerusalem missed her chance for peace. Earlier in Luke, Jesus expressed his unfulfilled hopes for the city: “How many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling” (13:34). Our Lord truly longed to protect Jerusalem, to care for it, to nurture it as a devoted parent. But…Jerusalem did not recognize the time of the Lord’s visitation.
Yet Jesus’ visitation—and invitation—are not limited to a single point in time. Today, He gazes at each of us, upon our parishes and communities, our cities and nations, longing to gather it all into his arms.
Our Lord visits us in innumerable ways. Will we recognize him? He visits during the Mass, via the Sacraments, and as the Word of God is spoken from the ambo into our hearts. He is present at the Table as we gather there to receive him. As we sing praises, pray the Our Father, and reflect on the messages of the homily, we open the door of our hearts to him. Jesus himself “hems us in” from all sides in order to offer life. From every angle, material and immaterial, he reaches out to us and years to stay within us permanently.
Let us accept Jesus’ gaze of love and gather together as a brood under his wings.