1 Maccabees 2:15-29
"As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it. . ." (Luke 19:41)
Life is full of disappointments. When Jesus approached Jerusalem on that day, as the Gospel tells us, he got in touch with the deep disappointment he was feeling over people of Israel’s lack of faith in Him as One sent by God and their lack of acceptance of his Mission: Salvation and Eternal Life for those who believed in Him. So Jesus wept!
Some people can deal with disappointments somewhat well and others are devastated by them.
Disappointments come in all sizes and wrappings. I remember well when I was cut from the track team on the last day of try-outs when I was in the 8th grade. I was sure that I would make the team because I was consistently coming in third and fourth in cross country. My dad bought me a pair of tennis shoes (that’s what we called them back in the mid-fifties) as a surprise, even though we could not afford them. I was the last one cut from the team. I was crushed. I cried all the way home.
That was not my first disappointment in life and it would not be my last. We all face disappointments. Some disappointments are so trivial that many of us cannot understand the depth of the disappointment expressed by the one hurt. The response is way out of proportion to the hurt experienced in the disappointment.
Other disappointments are profoundly personal, as when we are rejected for being who we are, or passed over when we should be the one chosen, or rejected by someone we have loved without measure. Those disappointments can sting us to the core of our being and change us so radically that we only become aware of the change within us when we take note of the devastation we bring into the lives of those we love. Some become addicted to alcohol, to deviant sexual behavior or become uncharacteristically anti-social, fueled by an uncontrollable anger and rage.
There is no doubt that disappointment is a defining moment in our lives, and the way we respond to it makes us or breaks us.
When Jesus saw Jerusalem at a distance as he made his way to embrace the Cross, he experienced profound disappointment in the people of Israel, the people of the Covenant, the people he loved so deeply and so consistently. He says, "If this day you only knew what makes for peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes." (Luke 19:42) That is why Jesus wept over this privileged city of God.
Yet, Jesus did not turn his back upon his mission of loving without measure the people that God had chosen. He did not let his disappointment drag him down to the depths of depression and despair. He did not cry out, "Oh, poor me! I don’t deserve this!" Rather, he set his face toward Jerusalem with resolve, calling upon every ounce of love that was overflowing in his Sacred Heart. He showed us the way to face disappointment in our lives.
It may take a long time for us to realize the destructiveness that disappointment can cause in our lives and the disaster that we can create in other people’s lives as we cling tenaciously to disappointments. We need to weep and then get over them, as Jesus did. We need to fall on our knees before the Disappointed Jesus hanging on the Cross and ask for the grace to overcome them. Disappointments can make us stronger, more dedicated and more committed to our life-long vocation of love and service, no matter the obstacles before us and the disappointments we experience.
This is a good Gospel for us to meditate on and reflect upon all of the disappointments of our lives. May the Disappointed Jesus turn our small disappointments into new opportunities for growth and grace!
Fr. Clemente Barron, C.P. is a member of the General Council of the Passionist Congregation and is stationed in Rome.