On Our Lord Weeping over Jerusalem.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On Our Lord Weeping over Jerusalem.
In the tranquil eventide, just when the sun is sinking in the west, behold Jesus ascending the Mount of Olives. Before Him lies Jerusalem, the most beautiful, the most magnificent of all the cities of Israel. How quiet and peaceful it appears, for the noise of the busy streets, the din and turmoil of the town does not reach yonder eminence; all is still and tranquil and beautiful; the marble columns of Herod’s palace gleam and glitter in the rays of the setting sun, while the temple, proudly standing on Sion’s heights, flashes like a bright jewel set in gold. A fair and fascinating sight indeed, that city of David; Jesus gazes on it, gazes on its splendor, and weeps. Keep this scene present to your mind during your meditation.
1st. Consider how, while our Lord looked upon the city standing there in unimpaired stateliness and beauty, the thought of the graces vouchsafed to it by God, the knowledge of the awful judgments about to overtake it, were borne in so forcibly upon the loving, the compassionate heart of Jesus, that He wept over the approaching destruction of the holy city, and wept with an incomparably greater sorrow than that experienced by Jeremias on the occasion of its first destruction, and expressed by him in his Lamentations. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, over that singularly beauteous city. Grasp this thought, my soul. You also are a fair city like Jerusalem. The temple of the Holy Ghost which you became by divine consecration is more beautiful than the marble temple on Mount Sion. Your soul, arrayed in the garment of sanctifying grace, shines with greater glory than did the city of David in the red glow of the setting sun, and the dignity of a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is in store for you, far exceeds the majesty of the earthly Jerusalem. Our Lord sees this beauty, this splendor, this glory appertaining to you, and He weeps. And why? It may perchance be because you are one of those . . . who are so much to be pitied, of whom St. Augustine speaks when he sorrowfully writes: “We have seen many, and have heard our fathers speak of many, whom I cannot recall to mind without trembling, who at the outset ascended up to Heaven and built their nest among the stars, then later on fell back into the abyss and became hardened in their evil ways. Those who appeared to be most exemplary have fallen to the lowest depths, and those who had eaten the Bread of Angels I have seen feasting on the husks of swine.” What is the reason of this deplorable relapse?
2d. Our Lord tells us the cause: “Because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.” (St. Luke xix. 44.) How numerous were the graces Jerusalem received from our Lord! O how many miracles it witnessed! What opportunities it had for hearing the celestial doctrine He taught! How often He had admonished and warned the faithless city, “as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, so would the Lord have gathered together thy children, but thou wouldst not; thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” And now, Jerusalem, what will avail thee thy magnificence, the gorgeous brilliance of thy marble columns? Behold, “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.” (St. Luke xix. 43.) Reflect upon this, my soul. See, the Lord visited you with the fulness of His grace; . . . you are a city specially favored and privileged. If, instead of making good use of His grace, instead of laboring arduously, assiduously in the season of salvation, you are perhaps indolent and tepid, daily becoming more indifferent, oh then you have reason to fear lest your destruction be near. The loftiness of your calling, the prestige, the sanctity of your Order will profit you nothing, if you do not know “the things that are to your peace,” if you do not make fervent use of the graces conferred on you. It is not, as St. Augustine once said to the monks of the desert, the place that sanctifies us, but our good works will sanctify both the place and ourselves.
3d. Consider how the touching, the pathetic scene presented to our view in the former part of the Gospel for the day, suddenly changes to one of a strikingly different nature. The self-same Saviour who stood upon Mount Olivet, overflowing with benignity and mercy, so that He actually shed tears over the ill-fated city of Jerusalem, shortly after is seen to stand in the temple of that city, in a totally opposite character. The eyes that a little while before shed tears of compassion now flash with indignation; the countenance that on the Mount of Olives wore an expression of sorrowful pity now is lighted up with the anger of the strict Judge, as with imposing majesty He wields the scourge and casts them that sold out of the temple with the condemnatory words: “My house is the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves.” (St. Luke xix. 46.) My soul, our Lord still looks on you with a look of gentleness and love, He still weeps over the obduracy of Jerusalem. But if you do not soon cleanse your house from the sins that defile it, He will employ the terrors of His scourge, and because you did not know the time of your visitation, He will visit you with His just anger, and chastise you in His wrath. Even now the arm of the Lord may be uplifted to strike you. Do you know what will avert the blow? Your tears. Yes, weep, weep as Jesus did, weep those tears of contrition of which St. Ambrose says: “tears of humility, yours is the might, yours is the kingdom. You need not fear the throne of the Judge, you silence every accusation, you conquer the invincible, you prove mightier than the Almighty.”
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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