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. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."
Jesus drew near Jerusalem at the head of a large group of followers. Like a host approaching the field for the decisive battle, the group sensed the tension in the air. The mixture of multiple expectations and uncertainty would have thinned the ranks with every mile that they came closer to their destination if not for the forceful and confident strides of their King at the head of the train. Then, suddenly, the King weeps.
These tears oblige both the loyal follower and the distant observer to reinterpret the whole endeavor. What kind of a host is this? What kind of a battle is coming? Who is this King? The interpretations must have been numerous. Walking through the ranks we will find disappointment in some looks, uncertainty in others; some will submit their confusion to the trust in Jesus, others will offer theories about the object of His sorrow. Surprisingly, nobody asks Him.
Among the hundred pairs of eyes which gazed at the tears running down Christ’s cheeks were some who managed to see through deeper. His disciples were used to the fact by now that Jesus saw the world differently; they knew better than the rest that the “battle” which expected them was something other than a worldly struggle. In one particular pair of eyes, tears welled also: in the eyes of Jesus’ mother. No matter how clearly she saw the destiny which awaited her son, Mary was close enough to His pure heart and had a good enough sense of the impurity of the world to understand what He was up against.
With Mary, we regard the upcoming “battle” through the lens of Jesus’ heart. A battle in which evil would draw all its forces together, forces which had put down roots in the hearts of all men. This force would attack the One God. It would torture and kill the Son who became man. And by succeeding in this destruction, the perverse logic of sin would reach its peak: the destruction of their source of life is nothing else but a self-destruction of man, a destruction of the people of God: “They will smash you to the ground and your children with you,” Jesus prophesied. Here lies the cause for His tears. The drama of the sinner is not only that he attacks his God, but also that through this attack he destroys himself.
Jesus’ firm strides reflected His ardent love as much as His bitter tears did. He led His people into a battle which defies the worldly logic. He taught us that in order to defeat evil one needs to be willing to suffer for the others. He faced the cruel reality of the angry, sinful world with self-giving love. He is a victorious King, but His victory did not consist in erasing mankind following their attack, but in cleansing us from the evil forces rooted within our hearts. Today, offer your heart to Our Lord. The tears He has shed and the battle He has fought were for your heart’s sake: Let Him rule over it now, Let Him be your King, do not allow that His sacrifice was in vain. Thy Kingdom Come! - in your heart and in as many hearts as you two can reach together.
(To view the proper Gospel passage for Thanksgiving Day, go to Luke 17:11-19 - Capturing the Mystery.)