Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Saw the City and Wept

“Worthy are you to receive the scroll and break open its seals, for you were slain and with your Blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation.  You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.”  Revelation 5:9-10

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.  For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.”  Luke 19:41-43

Be Not Afraid – Bob Dufford, St. Louis Jesuits
You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me, and
I will give you rest.

The short and fast but long and slow journey which began in the temple of Nazareth starts to draw to a close in the temple of Jerusalem.  At the quiet beginning, Jesus picked up a scroll and began to read from it and all were amazed.  That Nazareth manifesto shocked some people – not for what was said but for what was left unsaid.  Those waiting for vengeance were sorely disappointed.

Today, in the penultimate week of the liturgical year, our readings from Revelation remind us of that innocent lamb reading from the prophet Isaiah.  This warning delivered in Luke 19 recalls the actual way that the good-for-nothing crowds turned on Jesus after his powerful preaching in chapter 4.  For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. 

Those days are already here.  In the beginning of the Gospel from Luke, Jesus escapes from those who wish to do harm to him. 

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.  They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed through the midst of them and went away.  Luke 4:28-30

As his journey moves into Jerusalem, a similar escape will not be so easy. The cup will not pass from his holy hands this time.  In little more than a month, we will celebrate the birth of a baby – the innocent lamb who will be led to the slaughter on the cross by a crowd of disbelievers.  

Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: “You shall indeed hear but not understand you shall indeed look but never see.” (Matthew 13:14)

Knowledge is fleeting.  Jesus reminds us how little we know.  However, it is not too late to open our minds to understanding, open our eyes to what the Lord would have us see.

If we stay where we are happy and contented, we will not stretch our minds and eyes and hearts to the world.  It is only when we venture across the barren desert, go where we do not know the path, or attempt to speak in foreign places that we can begin to understand everything from Isaiah to Revelation.

Where will you stretch today?

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