As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 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. 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. 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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
In today’s scripture readings we are presented with contrasting portraits of how a devout believer might live with integrity. In the First Reading from Maccabees, Mattathias and his sons flee from the city after killing a Jew who was prepared to sacrifice to the gods of the evil occupying king, Antiochus. They call upon other faithful Jews to join them. Leaving all their possessions behind, they flee to the desert where they will pursue faithful worship of the God of Israel.
In the Gospel, Luke anticipates the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A. D. Here Jesus is portrayed as weeping for the city. Jesus says, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace— but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Does Jesus mean peace with God? For his concluding words are, “For you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Rather than dwell on questions on sin and punishment in the past, we should ask ourselves whether we have ignored God’s presence and action in our lives? Does Jesus weep in frustration over us? As we anticipate the beginning of the Year of Mercy, we must ask ourselves whether we have prayed for God’s mercy for all the times we have ignored his overtures to us.
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.
It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! … “Oh, I am a great sinner!” All the better! Go to Jesus: He likes you to tell him these things! He forgets. He has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets. He kisses you. He embraces you and He simply says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more” (Jn 8:11).
— Pope Francis, Homily on March 17, 2013