Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost—21 July A.D. 2013



Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

"Jerusalem! Jerusalem!  Return to the Lord thy God!"

    In order to understand today's Gospel, we need to look back to the Old Testament, to see the relationship between God, His Jewish people, and the city of Jerusalem.

    We know that when God delivered His people out of bondage in Egypt, He was with them personally as they journeyed across the desert.  He was with them by day as a pillar of cloud.  He was with them by night in a column of flame.[1]  All through the journey, they had tangible evidence of His presence.  When they stopped along the way, they set up a make-shift sanctuary of tents for God to dwell in.  When they finally reached the Promised Land, the tent was set up permanently until the Temple was built to replace it by King Solomon.

    In Hebrew, the word for this “presence of God” is the “shekinah.”  We might think of it as being something like the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle of a Catholic church.  But there was an important difference.  The “shekinah” was present in only one place—not like the Blessed Sacrament in numerous tabernacles throughout the world.

    While the Jews might have synagogues anywhere in the world, where they might gather to pray and to hear the word of God, there was only one Temple.  There was only one place where the true Presence of God dwelt with His people—and that was in Jerusalem.  Indeed the Jews mocked the Samaritans, who set up a rival temple elsewhere (on Mount Gerizim), for the Samaritan temple was an empty house, devoid of God's true presence.

    So when our Lord pondered the destruction of Jerusalem—a destruction He knew would come only 35 years later at the hands of the Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus—it was a moment of extreme sadness to Him.  As a Jew, Jerusalem and its Temple represented to Him the covenant of God with His chosen people—a symbol of God’s favor on them.  As God, it was the destruction of the city and the house in which He had dwelt for many years.

    Yet, despite this tenderness and pity for Jerusalem, our Lord knew that He would allow it to be so completely destroyed that the prophetic words would be literally true: “not so much as one stone would be left standing on another stone.”  Everything would be scattered!

    There is an important warning in this Gospel:  God is merciful and compassionate, but He is also just.  The price for rejecting Jesus Christ, and looking for a worldly king to drive out the Romans was the destruction of this most precious city.  In reality, the price was the destruction of the whole nation; the voiding of the covenant of God with His chosen people.

    And, just as there was justice for the Jews as a nation, there was justice for individuals.  Those who had secularized and commercialized the worship of God were thrown out of the Temple; beaten with a whip.

    St. Paul generalizes a bit more, and explains that we will be punished whenever we “lust after evil things.”[2]  He too goes back to the Old Testament, and reminds the Corinthians that those who rejected God's law while in the desert were struck with a plague of serpents.[3]  But, even these serpents were merely a foretaste of what was to come—a warning offered for our correction, before it is too late and the final age of the world has come upon us.  A warning to “avoid temptation, lest ye fall.”

    As a nation, we must remain faithful to Jesus Christ.  Certainly, we in America have received many favors from God.  Our land is wide, and contains many natural resources.  It is not too hard to compare ourselves with the other nations of the world, and feel that we are God's new “chosen people.”  But just as that could be taken away from the Jews, so it will be taken away from us if we reject the Kingship of Christ; if we refuse to conduct our affairs in conformity with God's law; if we, as a people, refuse to acknowledge even His existence.  Indeed, it seems that there is a direct correlation between our decline in prosperity and our decline in public morality.

    And, likewise, as Jesus drove individuals out of the temple for their personal rejection of God—so too will he reject those of us as individuals, who withhold our obedience, our love, and our devotion from Him.

    “God is faithful, and He will not tempt us beyond our strength”—but He does expect us to do our part.[4]




[2]   Epistle:  I Corinthians: x: 6-13


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