As they have for centuries, pilgrims will stop at important sites in Jerusalem during Holy Week to commemorate the steps of Jesus the week before He died. Modern pilgrims have opportunity to pause on the Mount of Olives at one of the newest shrines in the Holy City, Dominus Flevit--whose Latin meaning is "The Lord wept." On this Monday of Holy Week, I'd like to stop with them to consider what made Jesus cry.
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it...because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." Luke 19:41,44
Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because He foresaw its destruction. He shed tears over the innocent children who would suffer from the stubborn decisions of their parents, who first rejected their Lord, and then rebelled against their Roman masters. Jesus wept because peace was possible, yet people rejected the possibility of peace. He gave special focus to the religious elite of the day, who were offended at the authentic worship given to Jesus. The words on the lips of the pilgrims that day sang out in fulfillment of the angels' promise at Bethlehem so many years before, "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
Lest this become an arcane history lesson, chastising the Jews for rejecting their Messiah, I wonder, "What does this have to do with me?" First, Jesus sees all my sin from the beginning. He took the road to the cross BECAUSE He saw the roads I would take. He weeps over my continual disobedience and rebellion against my rightful ruler. I think about how often peace is possible in my relationships, in my family, yet I choose a harsh comment, or put myself first when I could serve instead. Regardless of how invisible or subtle I believe my choices to be, Jesus sees. And He weeps.
From His perch atop the Mount of Olives, Jesus sees more than my individual sin, injurious though it is. He sees that groups of people who should believe in peace, but instead sow discord and hate. His chosen people the Jews still fight over the very ground Jesus walked. And the church, God's people grafted in to become holy, we find the same spirit. Do we recognize the time of God's coming? If Jesus were to show up in one of our over-produced, slick worship services, trailed by the lepers and prostitutes that were drawn to Him, would we recognize Him?
This Holy Week, I ask, does my heart break for the things that break the heart of Jesus? As we heard the powerful presentation of Linda Smith of Shared Hope International on children forced into sexual slavery all over the world, I wonder at the sexual appetites of the West that create bondage for so many. Do we weep over the children as Jesus did?
This Monday of Holy week, I pause with the pilgrims to consider the the tears of Christ. The tear-shaped sanctuary Dominus Flevit maintained by the Franciscans gives me the opportunity. It also suggests a way forward to the possibility of peace. The Franciscans were once based in Assisi, city of their founder St. Francis. Yet in 1217, they made the decision to go out from there, to spread the joy of the gospel around the world. This Easter, let us with Franciscan fervor, look beyond the walls of our "holy huddle" to see the lost and hurting in this world and truly make a difference in their lives. I want to ask "for whom does the Savior weep" and involve myself in responding to them. It is a pilgrimage...for I find in myself too many of the things that make Jesus cry.
How about you?