NOVEMBER 17, 2005- AWHUM- LUKE 19: 41-44

THEY WILL DESTROY YOU UTTERLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE FAILED TO RECOGNIZE THE TIME OF YOUR VISITATION. Our Lordís lament over Jerusalem took place shortly before he was taken prisoner and put to death. He was nearing the end of his active ministry of preaching and had accumulated a large number of impressions received in the course of many contacts with persons of standing as well as with the common people. He came to see quite clearly that his message was not acceptable to the large majority of people, and especially the leaders. Because Jerusalem had a special place in Godís plan, and had been chosen as a special place of his worship, Jesus had a particular veneration and even affection for this Holy City and its people and for the temple in particular. There he had been presented to the Lord as an infant of forty days. When twelve he had appeared again there to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, along with his parents. On that occasion he participated in a conversation with the learned doctors of the law who recognize in him a highly gifted, precocious youth, able to speak with authority already of divine matters. When his parents found him there he made it clear in his own words that he is aware of a higher mission that transcends the ties of family. Significantly, he speaks of the magnificent national temple as in some manner belonging to him for , as he states to his mother, it is "my Fatherís house".

Actually, there is still a more intimate bond between him and this temple. "destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days" he told his critics (John 2:19). Later, when he had risen from the dead, the apostles recalled this saying and then for the first time they understood that he had been speaking of his body as the Fatherís temple. (John 2:21) It was at Jerusalem that he was to carry out the high mission assigned him by the Fatherís will, of suffering and dying for the people who would believe in him. For some extended period before his death Jesus realized that he was to meet his destined end there as he carried out the divine plan. He warned his disciples in advance that ascending to the Holy City was to be an encounter with suffering and death.

All these matters were present to our Lord in various states of clarity as he looked upon the temple from a certain distance and realized that not long after his death there, the city itself would be destroyed along with the temple, amid great suffering for the people living there at the time. He understood that such a fate awaited his own people in the near future precisely because they would not acknowledge him as their Savior. His tears were caused not only by sadness over the suffering and destruction he foresaw; they were the more bitter because this fate was avoidable. It was brought on by the insensitivity and perverse prejudices of the human heart.

Just as the temple was a sign of Jesusí body and its destruction a symbol of his coming death, so also is this calamity a symbolic warning to all men and women. God visits his people in many ways and at various times. He does so through the words of his priests and disciples, through the teachings of the Scriptures and the saints and not least through events that are Providential, offering opportunities for preparing oneís heart to recognize the day of visitation. This Gospel text, this homily, these days of retreat are so many divinely offered opportunities for entering into our heart so as to welcome the day of visitation that will come for each of us. May the grace of this Eucharist and of the words of this liturgy so work upon us that we welcome this warning word of our Lord and turn to him with trust in his mercy from the heart.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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