One of the difficult things that priests encounter is when someone expresses that they’ve chosen to stay far off from the Lord believing the lie that Satan has whispered to them. They’ll say things like “God must be angry with me,” that He won’t understand, that I must have maxed out on favors from the Lord… And so they chose to remain far off, distant – “Father I can’t go into Church, the roof will collapse…” “Father you don’t have enough time for my confession.” They’re couched as jokes that I’ll answer “The church is pretty strong and has withstood far worse threats then you…” or “try me, let’s get started and see how long we need…” Sometimes it will work. Sometimes it doesn’t and it’s sad to see that reluctance – that distance.
Because even after beautiful parables like the Prodigal Son or the Lost Sheep where Jesus has given these profound images of what mercy, what forgiveness, what love the Father has for us – still that original sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden still effects us: We somehow fall into that old broken pattern of trying to do things on our own – in our own way, in our own vision, in our own strength.
This is what causes Jesus to weep. We might have missed that in this short Gospel passage which draws our attention to Jerusalem and the prophecy of the destruction of the Holy City. That horrific event when Rome crushed the Jewish people occurred decades after Jesus’ crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension. But Jesus is not speaking merely to the city of Jerusalem… He’s not simply prophesying about that event. He’s speaking to each and every human heart: “if this day you only knew what makes for peace” – and He weeps at the seeming blindness of those then, and now. He weeps for the destruction of an even more important temple than that of Jerusalem – the temple that God has created, fashioned himself – you, me, and every other human being who are created as temples of the Holy Spirit.
God desperately wants to save us from destruction – or more precisely, self-destruction. Yet so often we can be as oblivious as the first listeners were, not being vigilant against the enemy making inroads; weakening us from within as our laziness, arrogance, our apathy blind us. Undermining our belief in, and our need for a savior.
Unlike Jerusalem though – its not a forgone conclusion. This historical reminder of that physical destruction and hearing Jesus’ words proclaimed to open our hearts, souls, minds and eyes to see what areas need attention… How has any laziness crept into our spiritual lives? What sins have we gotten comfortable with that are undermining our foundations? What lukewarmness in our faith, in our belief is lulling us into complacency? Will we draw near to Christ- be attentive, and listen more intently to His calls, see how the Prince of Peace wishes for us to welcome Him into our own temples. Not just for a visit but to take up residency within… and save us from destruction, save us from ourselves. Will we let Him?