“Unfaithfulness Brings Down God’s Justice"

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

25 August 2021

“For days will come upon thee when thy enemies will throw up a rampart about thee, and surround thee and shut thee in on every side, and will dash thee to the ground and thy children within thee, and will not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou has not known the time of thy visitation.” Lk. 19: 44-5

Fr. Gabriel of St. Magdalen in his book of meditations, Divine Intimacy, tells us: “Today the liturgy invites us to consider the grave problem of our correspondence with grace. It does this by showing us the sad picture of the sufferings of Israel, the chosen people, upon whom God had showered His benefits, whom He had surrounded with graces, protected with jealous care, and who, in spite of all this were lost through their own infidelity. In the Epistle (I Cor. 10:6-13), St. Paul, after mentioning certain points about Israel’s unfaithfulness, concludes: ‘Now all these things happened to them as a type and they were written for our correction, ...Wherefore, he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.’ I Cor. 10:11-12. ....The Gospel (Lk. 19:41-47) continues the same subject of the Epistle and shows us Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. The Creator, the Lord, the Redeemer weeps over the ruin of His creatures, the people whom He has loved with predilection, even choosing them as the companions of His earthly life, and whom He had desired to save at any price. ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem. how often would I have gathered together thy children as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not.’” Mt. 23:37 Fr. Gabriel, p. 753-4

“The time of thy visitation” Lk.19:45

In today’s Epistle, St. Paul is concerned with two questions on idolatry. He questions whether a Christian can participate in heathen sacrificial banquets, and whether a Christian may eat foods that have been offered to idols. For the latter, St. Paul tells the Corinthians that it is possible to do so within certain limitations, but for the former, he argues strongly against participating in idolatrous sacrifices. He cites four events in Hebrew history which show how the people were punished for their idolatry. First is the incident of the Golden calf “the people sat down to eat and drink and got up to play.” Ex. 32: 6, 19 The second incident is the sin of fornication of the Israelites with women of Moab, (cf. Num. 25:1ff)

and the sin of idolatry with worship of Baal-Peor and heathen banquets: “Neither let us commit fornication, even as some of them committed fornication and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand.” I Cor. 10:8 The third incident concerns the tempting of the Israelites in the desert when they murmured about the Manna; for this they were punished by a plague of snakes (cf. Num. 21:5-6). The fourth incident concerned the Jews when the destroying angel killed 14,700 of the Israelites after they murmured against Moses and Aaron (cf. Num. 16:41ff). St. Paul uses these incidents to teach the Corinthians not to yield to temptations that offend God as “God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it.” I Cor. 10:13

Hardness of Heart

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals His tender concern for the Jews who refuse to acknowledge Him as Son of God even after all His miracles, His sinless life, and His divine teaching. (“No one has ever spoken as this man.” Jn. 7:46) Jesus prophesises about the coming destruction of Jerusalem. St. Paul spoke of the impending punishment on his people for their lack of faith: “I have great sadness and continual sorrow have I in my heart; for I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ for my brethren who are my kinsmen according to the flesh;” Rom. 9:2-2 Dom Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Year, Vol. 11 comments on today’s Gospel: “The passage just read to us from the holy Gospel takes us back to the day of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This triumph, which God the Father willed should be offered to His Son before the commencement of His Passion, was not, as we well know, anything of a recognition of the Messiah made by the Synagogue. Neither the meek, gentle manners of this King, who came to the daughter of Sion seated on an ass (cf. Zach. 9:9) nor His merciful severity upon the profaners of the temple, nor His farewell teachings in His Father’s house could open the eyes of men who were determined to keep them shut against the light of salvation and peace. Not even the tears of the Son of Man, then could stay God’s vengeance: there is a time for justice, and the Jews were resolved it should come to themselves.” Gueranger p. 230

Prophecies of Jerusalem’s Destruction

In addition to Jesus’ own prophetic words that “not a stone shall be left upon a stone,” (Mt. 24:2) there were many Old Testament prophets who warned the Jewish people of their impending destruction for their lack of belief: “’Woe to the provoking and redeemed city! She hath not hearkened to the voice of her God. Her princes are in the midst of her as roaring lions; her judges are ravening wolves; her prophets are senseless men without faith; her priests have defiled the sanctuary; they have acted unjustly against the law (they have violated it) Crush the city as in a mortar.’ Zeph. 3:1-4, 9, 11. ‘Go through the city, and strike! Utterly destroy old and young, maidens, children, and women—yea, destroy all that are not marked upon their foreheads with Thau! (cross) And begin ye at my sanctuary; slay my priests, and the ancients; defile the house (my temple) and fill its courts with the bodies of the slain.’” Ezech. 9:4-7 Gueranger, p. 230-31

Desolation upon Desolation

The Fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD to the Romans under Titus was the single most destructive catastrophe the world had seen up until that time. Over 1,100,000 men perished. Thousands more of women and children died of starvation. The prophecies were fulfilled completely. The mighty city of Jerusalem was destroyed with because they had known of the Lord’s visitation: “Amen I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Mt. 24:2. Their curse at the time of Jesus’ condemnation, was fulfilled: “His blood be upon us and our children.” (Mt.27:25) Hitherto, the world had never witnessed such destruction, and the world has never seen its like again.

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