"As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it…" This was the last time that Jesus would go up to Jerusalem. His heart was broken and he wept as he foresaw the future. Some of those tears would be for many whom he had been in contact with during his ministry there. In the year 66 A.D. just some 30+ years after the death of Jesus on the Cross, the Romans converged on Jerusalem. The Jews had revolted against the Romans, refusing to pay the taxes imposed on them. Finally in the year 70 A.D. the Romans laid siege to the city of Jerusalem and in the course of four months totally destroyed it…"not leaving one stone upon another." The historians verify this. Many people who stayed, trying to fight against the Romans, were killed. Still others fled, seeking safety and a place to start a new life.
No one wants a loved one to suffer needlessly. Even on simple occasions many of us can remember the words of a parent, "Be careful!" as we left home to attend school, a movie or a birthday party. They covered us with a cloak of love and concern. At this time in our global history there is so much fear, so many threats of violence, of hatred. The 9/11 tragedy has left us with the fearful reality that terrorists can find a way to inflict pain and death. There is a great concern on the part of many families for a son or daughter who is engaged in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Christians in Baghdad just recently had some 50 of their parishioners killed in their church. The real potential for suffering is staring all of us in the face.
I find myself realizing the need to work for peace now within my own geographical area as well as in the global areas. That "work" calls for deepening the need to bring about a greater awareness of the dignity and preciousness of every single person. It urges me to be involved in justice issues, of whatever is needed to protect and foster that dignity and preciousness. I need to support and to challenge those in leadership roles in the church, the world, the individual nations, the states, the cities and the local neighborhood.
Do you and I love? If our answer is "yes", then you and I will suffer and shed many tears as we encounter the negative forces at work in our world. Jesus even asks us to "love our enemies." Not easy. Not accomplished in a day. Not always accepted. Not believed to have any effect whatever. A long journey begins with the first step. Hand in hand we walk with Jesus, "Take up your cross and follow me." We hear Him saying on the cross, "Father, forgive them." "Greater love than this no has but to lay down his life for his friends."
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.