Ninth Sunday after Pentecost—11 August AD 2019
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Roman Destruction of Jerusalem
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
“When Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
the city, He wept over it....”
One of the
unfortunate stereotypes of Christianity is that it is a “hell-fire and
brimstone” religion. In the movies, a sermon is expected to be
delivered in an elevated voice, and to contain numerous warnings and
chastisements. The popular conception is that the Christian God is an
angry God, and that His ministers have to preach sermons filled with the
Some of this
misunderstanding of what Christianity is all about stems from a lack of
understanding of God Himself. The person who sees God as primarily the
angry God is making the classical mistake of man making God in his own
image, rather than the other way around. We humans tend to be short
tempered and unforgiving—longer on anger and jealousy—shorter on
compassion and mercy.
Of course, we would
be wrong to think that we have nothing to fear if we refuse to keep the
commandments. We would be foolish indeed if we were to suppose that,
after giving us a knowledge of the Faith, God will not hold us
accountable to practice it. The truth of the matter is that God is both
merciful and just.
The Gospel this
morning tells us that Jesus wept when He saw Jerusalem—that He knew that
the people He had favored with His revelation—His “chosen people” —would
reject Him. Both literally and figuratively, Jerusalem, the city of
God, would be smashed. Not one stone would be left standing upon
another stone. This would physically be accomplished when the Romans
sacked the city about 30 years later. But it would be accomplished in a
more symbolic sense when the Jews rejected their Savior, and crucified
The tears of Jesus
tell us of His mercy. His heart is moved with compassion for the misery
of His people. We see this throughout Sacred Scripture. Even in the
Old Testament where the justice of God is often emphasized, we read of
The Lord is
compassionate and merciful, long suffering and plenteous in mercy.
As the father has
compassion on his children, so has the Lord compassion on those that
The Lord God;
merciful and gracious, patient, and of much compassion.
And, all the more,
we read of God's mercy in the New Testament. The parables of the
Prodigal Son, and those of the shepherd and his lost sheep. The
constant call of sinners to repentance. The miracles our Lord worked to
heal the sick of their physical ailments. And, most of all, we see in
our Lord's very life the mercy of a God who loved His people enough to
become one of them and to lay down His own life for them.
However, we must
not forget that God is also just. Of His very nature, He is motivated
to give everyone what they are due. We would be foolish indeed if we
were to expect God to reward us for each and every achievement, yet
expect him to look the other way when we have done something wrong.
Justice and mercy are united in God. We might think of them as the two
sides of the same coin. This is clearly to be seen in today's Gospel,
wherein we see our Lord weeping over the destruction of the Temple—and
then going inside to drive out the money changers!
God is generous,
and His rewards are often greater than His punishments—but we have no
right to expect or demand this of Him.
Perhaps the most
generous thing God has done is to let us know what is expected of us.
The Psalmist boasted: “He has not done this for any other nation; His
ordinances He has not made known to them.”
As Saint Paul tells
us, we have the example of those who were punished for their
transgressions in the Old Testament. “These things are written for our
correction.... so that no temptation may take hold of you.” And again,
he tells us that God will not allow us to be “tempted beyond our
His mercy and justice together won't allow that.
We ought to be
impressed with God's justice. It will bring us our just reward, but is
also something to be feared. Yet that fear should be a healthy fear.
God is also
merciful. And that mercy ought to inspire our love of Him.
of God must not be one sided. It should not be all fire and brimstone,
but neither can it be all roses. There is a balance between God's
justice and His mercy.
Perhaps it is best
summed up in the Gospel which tells us that “God so loved the world that
he gave his only-begotten Son....”
In this one act, we see both God's love and His justice. I hope that it
will move us to the love and justice which are proper to our human
nature—that, each of us, loving God, will keep the justice of His