St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Trinity X : Fr Tony Hogg

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 Jesus often weeps over his Church, even today, as he did before the closed gates of Jerusalem. We Christians continue often to close their doors to the Lord out of fear of his ‘surprises’, which undermine established certainties and securities. Sometimes it is because we may fear that we are fearful of the Lord always guiding us.
In the gospel today we heard of Jesus weeping at the gates of Jerusalem; he ‘ wept over the city; he wept over her closure.’ He wept because the city was closed to Him, she didn’t want to receive Him.  This closing, makes Jesus weep; the closure of the heart of his chosen one, of his chosen city, of his chosen people, who didn’t have time to open the gate because they were too busy, too satisfied with themselves. Even today Jesus is still knocking on doors, as he knocked at the gate of Jerusalem; at the doors of his brothers, of his sisters; at our doors, at the doors of our hearts, at the doors of his Church.
The fact is that Jerusalem was content, at peace with her life, and had no need of the Lord. And the Lord wept for Jerusalem. As he also wept at the closed grave of his friend Lazarus. Jerusalem was dead.
In weeping over his chosen city, Jesus also weeps over his Church and over us. But we need to ask why Jerusalem would not receive the Lord? The answer is because she was at peace with what she had, she didn’t need problems. This is why Jesus exclaims at the gates, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace…because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation”. The city was afraid to be visited by the Lord; she was frightened of the judgment which that visit would bring upon her. She was happy with what she could manage.
Is that an attitude among Christians today? We are sure we can manage. But the Lord’s visits, his surprises, we aren’t able to manage them. The city was frightened of the Lord because when the Lord visits his people he brings us joy but he also brings us conversion. We are afraid; it is not happiness that we fear, but rather the joy the Lord brings because we cannot control it; we do not know where it may take us, even on paths we would rather not know, but the Lord knows what is best for us and he will guide us as the true shepherd guards and knows his sheep, ‘by still waters.’ 
We also know from today’s Gospel that Jerusalem at this time was at peace, content; the temple worked; the priests made sacrifices; the people came on pilgrimage; the doctors of the law had everything organized; all was well. But only on the surface…hearts were closed to truth. If we look at this from our own position today we can see a similarity – we know the faith, we know the Creed, we go to Mass regularly; all of us people and pastors alike, but are we pleased with ourselves? 
There is a risk of already feeling satisfied, because we’ve got everything organized, and we don’t feel the need to make new visits and knock on our door. But, my dears, Jesus is still knocking at the door, of each of us and of his Church, of the pastors of the Church. 
 And should the door of our heart, of the Church, of the pastors not open, the Lord weeps, even today, just as he did at the Jerusalem gates…he sees a lonely place, once full of people, now looking like a lonely widow. Jesus sees that lonely city and weeps because she doesn’t open her gates, because she fears the surprises that Jesus can and would bring, if only the city had guts and was not too satisfied with herself.
So we need to recognize from this how much God weeps over us. There was no curse to the unwelcoming city, but only a heartfelt sigh, and this is the natural reaction of one who loves. He loved Jerusalem; we must not forget that, but love does not mean weakness; there is no sentimentality in it, but their response to close their eyes to its visitation, would eventually lead to its destruction, so that not one stone was left on another.
So we need to keep in our minds that God visits us in hidden forms. It may be under the cover of illness. It may be through a time of national or natural disaster. We know that Jesus will be weeping today as he looks down on the destruction of the Amazon rain forests and God’s created world, which at the dawn he looked and ‘saw that it was very good.’ The important need is to hear what God is saying, and if necessary be willing to change the course of life we are following.  The enemy of safety is stubbornness. 
So, perhaps this week we might ask ourselves, how are we doing, at this moment, before God. God bless us in our question and above all in His answer.


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