Lamentations 2:2, 10-14, 18-19
The sixth century B.C. was a time of much sorrow. Our first reading from Lamentations gives us a taste of the people’s pain.
We can identity with the people of old, for we too have much to lament. Our world, our church and our country are struggling with many trials. However, someone more important than us is also lamenting. It is the Lord Jesus. We know he once shed tears over Jerusalem. What does he see now?
He sees countries ravaged by wars, people killed by terrorists and millions living in political oppression. He sees starving children, homeless families and battered spouses. He sees innocent babies aborted, teens hooked into drugs and the elderly neglected.
He sees those struggling to survive with little food, unclean water, no sanitation and no schools. He sees the unemployed, the physically sick and the emotionally distraught. He sees those who are insulted, betrayed and unloved. He sees the fearful, the broken-hearted and those who feel no hope.
He sees all this and tears stream down his face. His arms reach out, stretching all around the globe and embracing every hurting man, woman, and child. His mouth opens wide and a mighty sound comes forth.
It is a mournful shout, piercing through the night. It ascends the mountains, echoes through the valleys and rumbles down the streets of every city and village. It bounces across the oceans, thrusts out into outer space and resounds throughout the universe.
The voice of Christ cries out:
"These people — this is my body!
And their suffering — this is my blood!"
The words of Isaiah come to mind. "It was our infirmities he bore, our sufferings he endured." (Isaiah 53:4)
At Mass Jesus invites us to come to the altar and eat his body, and drink his blood. To receive the Holy Eucharist is to enter into union with the Lord. And with the Lord comes all his people. We are one with Jesus and one with the human family, lamenting its pain and sorrow. Compassion is the way of holiness.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.