Tuesday in the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 23:27-31

The Cross Brings Judgment, Too

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).

“And there followed him a great multitude of people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him” (Luke 23:27).  Jesus is now walking the Via Dolorosa, or “path of suffering.”  There are those who are glad to see this spectacle, bloodthirsty people who are just as happy to watch gladiators fight to the death in the Roman Coliseum.  Not so, these women.  These are human beings, the image of God within them, though tarnished as others, yet not so desecrated with love of cruelty.  They “lament” for Jesus as he stumbles along this painful path, a word not used so much today, but refers to passionate expressions of sorrow or grief, perhaps with words or loud groans.  The Book of Lamentations in the Old Testament is a classic example of laments which draw upon the purest emotions of godly grief.  I am of the opinion that the Church of our day needs to learn to lament over sin rather than to treat it so lightly.

But Jesus’ reply to them is one of little consolation.  They’ve no need to weep over him, though such sincere gestures are certainly praiseworthy, but instead they should weep for themselves and their children.  Jesus then prophesies the near future when judgment would visit the city.  How blessed will the barren wombs be that see not the suffering of their own children.  Then will people say to the mountains, “Fall on us,” and to the hills, “Cover us!”  Jesus was speaking to the destruction of Jerusalem which happened forty years after his crucifixion and resurrection, of which in another place, he said, “Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days” (Luke 21:23).  His prophecy also has reference to the end of time when men shall call upon the rocks to “fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16).  The passion of our Lord is the salvation of his people whereby they shall be exonerated and gifted with heaven; but it is the damnation of those whom he never knew whereby they shall be judged for the Son’s murder and punished with hell.  For if they behave like this during good times (our Lord’s first coming), then what should they expect when he returns at the end of time?  The cross is judgment for the wicked.

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