lundi, août 03, 2009

Sermon for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost

It is quite touching to see in today’s gospel Our Lord who weeps. It reminds us that our religion is the religion of the heart, and if sometimes it happens that we intellectualize it too much – the too much would be the excess and not the fact that we intellectualize – it is good for us to look at Our Lord and to consider his human nature, his emotions and his feelings. It shows how much God loves us and that he wants our Salvation. As Saint Cyril explains, the tears of Jesus are the visible proof that God sincerely desires our salvation.
Our Lord weeps over Jerusalem. Would you remain unemotional when thinking about this? Would your heart remain untouched? Would you not weep with your Savior over Jerusalem? But what is Jerusalem? Jerusalem is the City of Peace according to the Assyrian etymology of the name. City of Peace? It is what she is supposed to be. But she denied her vocation and ignored it. If thou also hadst known, and that in this day, the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes.
We read in the second book of Samuel that David took the castle of Sion and dwelt in the castle, and called it, the city of David. The Ark of the Covenant would be brought to the city soon he would become the glory of Jerusalem and the joy of Israel, title given to Judith and then to Our Lady, the Ark of the New Covenant. But the strength and the peace of the Holy City would be threatened. The Kings of Syria and of Israel marched against her. They could not prevail over her but they shook the faith of the King Achaz. It is at this time that God sent the prophet Isaiah who gave this great prophecy: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel. The story of Jerusalem tells us about the infidelity of men and the care of God that sends His prophets to revive her faith and her love. Jerusalem, Jerusalem convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum! – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted to the Lord thy God!

We know the rest of the story from the captivity to the Roman domination at the time when the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled. Christ, the Son of David, the Great Prophet would suffer and would die in Jerusalem. But before His Passion, He made this terrible prophecy: For the days shall come upon thee: and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee and compass thee round and straiten thee on every side, And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee. And they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.

The day of the Passover of the year 70, Titus, son of the Roman Emperor Vespasian began the siege of Jerusalem with four Legions. After 143 days, the City fell and the prophecy of Our Lord fulfilled. Flavius Joseph reports in The Jewish War that Titus would have said: It is not I who have conquered. God, in His wrath against the Jews, has made use of my arm.

These historical events certainly are a moral teaching for us. First, they may help us to realize that beyond the History of men that unfolds in our time, there is something greater that happens. This fact has been well explained by Saint Augustine in the City of God, one of the most remarkable writing of all times. There is a Providence and God rules the world and its event, even though His Providence does not suppress our liberty. It is certainly a mystery, but precisely because it is a mystery it is worthy to think about in order to invigorate our faith, our hope and our love. Ultimately, what truly matters is to be in the right and good side, in the City of God, whatever are the historical conditions in which we live.

The other thing that we should consider is that Jerusalem is a figure of our soul. Origen says that the Savior weeps over Jerusalem, which is our soul. Our soul is supposed to be a city of peace, the interior city of the peace that God encourages us to seek in Psalm 33: seek after peace and pursue it. You can read this Psalm and make the comparison between your soul and the city of Jerusalem. I sought the Lord, and he heard me; and he delivered me from all my troubles. (verse 5) But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil things: to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. (verse 11)

The Temple of Jerusalem has been destroyed. Now we have a new temple where we can worship in truth and spirit, and this is the temple of our soul. In the general audience of January 7th of this year, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the importance of this true worship in Spirit and quoted the words of the Prophet Daniel said when the Temple was destroyed:
Neither is there at this time prince, or leader, or prophet, or holocaust, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place of first fruits before thee, That we may find thy mercy: nevertheless, in a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted.
As in holocausts of rams, and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee: for there is no confusion to them that trust in thee.
And now we follow thee with all our heart, and we fear thee, and seek thy face. Put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies.
And deliver us, according to thy wonderful works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord: And let all them be confounded that show evils to thy servants, let them be confounded in all thy might, and let their strength be broken: And let them know that thou art the Lord, the only God, and glorious over all the world.

Today, we live in a kind of same situation and in a time of desolation, but what truly matters is finally to be worshipers in truth and spirit. The enemies of God will be confounded, but we, if we remain faithful will find the consolations of God. They can destroy our churches of stones; they will never be able to destroy the interior temple of our soul. There is only one person that can destroy it: it is yourself!
The great lesson of today is simply to recognize the time of the visitation of God by accepting all His graces. May Our Blessed Mother help us!

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