Unwilling to see or respond?

– 33rd Week in Ordinary Time –

As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it … because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God. [Luke 19:41-44]

It is difficult not to read today’s gospel text without bringing to mind the situation of post-Second World War Palestine and the re-establishment of the State of Israel. With much harm and bloodshed inflicted by both sides on the other, we see in the words of Jesus a dire prediction of the fate of Jerusalem down through the centuries. Recent peace accords that appear to ignore one party in favour of those with stronger international connections may do little to resolve these deep hurts and divisions. As was the case with the ‘Irish problem’ and, more recently, the issues highlighted by people of colour around the globe, no lasting peace can occur until all parties are treated justly. Ignoring those who do not have the power may appear to bring peace but the injustice festers.

However, this is not a political piece: simply an observation on the relevance of the words of Jesus to any situation of conflict. Here we have in mind more than the conflict between states or between peoples. Any passage of scripture is about more than its first level of meaning. We can read this one as an observation about our own lives and the lack of peace (both minor and major) that each of us can experience.

Jesus is locating peace in our ability to pay attention to the presence of God. He challenges us to remain vigilant to what God is doing and to what God is asking of us. Learning to do that is perhaps the central task of the Christian spiritual life. Paying attention to God can seem simple, but the healing required so that we can see is always gradual (Mark 8:22-26). It involves what is classically understood as ‘metanoia’ – the complete change of heart as the individual lets go of all those things that prevents him or her from seeing and responding to God.

Jesus laments because the people of Jerusalem had been unwilling or unable to do this.

Can the same be said of us?

 By Shane Dwyer

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