Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meditation on the Eighth Station of the Cross: The Women of Jerusalem Weep Over Jesus

In the eighth station of the Cross, we see the women of Jerusalem weeping over the suffering of our Lord. Up to this point, only women have shown compassion for our Lord on the way to Calvary. First was Pontius Pilate's wife. She had many dreams about Jesus and begged her husband not to have anything to do with the crucifixion of this Holy Man. Then, of course, we saw the great sorrow of our Blessed Mother as she suffered along with her Son. This was followed by Veronica, running out among the crowd and the soldiers to wipe the Face of Jesus.

Luke 23:27-31 gives us the following narrative:
27 And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 “Then they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, ‘FALL ON US,’ AND TO THE HILLS, ‘COVER US.’ 31 “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Unlike Jesus' reaction to Mary and Veronica, our Lord is almost rebuking these women who were showing compassion for His suffering. He tells them outright, "Don't weep for me, who am innocent." Our Lord was looking into the faces of these compassionate women, and in spite of all his pain and suffering, he was not thinking of himself but of the future of Jerusalem. He knew that these women and their children would suffer in just a couple of decades when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. This would be a time when many would wish they never had children because it is so terrible to watch them suffer and die. People at that time were actually seeking death.

From bible-history.com:
The Jewish Wars began in 66 A.D. and they were a direct revolt by the Jews against Rome’s authority. Titus with his Roman legions arrived at the outermost northern Wall of Jerusalem, the Passover of 70 A.D. The Romans built embankments of earthenwork, they placed battering rams and the siege began.

The Roman army numbered 30,000; while the Jewish army numbered 24,000. According to Tacitus they were 600,000 visitors crowding the streets of Jerusalem for the Passover. After five months the walls were battered down, the great Temple was burned down, and the city was left ruined and desolate, except for Herod's three great towers at the northwest corner of the city. These served as a memorial of the massive strength of Jerusalem's fortifications which Titus of Rome had brought to rubble.

The legions of Rome brought the captives to Caesarea and after over one million Jews were killed, 95,000 captives were taken as prisoners, and among them was Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian. According to Eusebius, the Christians saw the might of the Roman army and through prophetic warning, fled to Pella.
Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington sees an "eerie and prophetic connection" to our time of Jesus' words to the weeping women. From his article on the Archdiocese of Washington website:

But what of us? How, does this text speak to us? It a word or three: Horribly, poignantly and prophetically.
It does not take a genius to see that the Lord’s words are true for us in ugly and sickening ways. Our bloodbath is far worse that 70 AD. 55 million are dead from abortion in America alone since 1973. And add to that the 100 Million + who were killed in the last century alone for ideological purposes in two world wars, a cold war, and the pogroms and systematic starvation of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and their successors.
Though we like to think ourselves civilized in comparison to previous centuries, our blood bath is far deeper than any age before. True, we murder our millions in less publicly brutal ways. We do not experience hoards of warriors descending from day to day on unsuspecting cities. Our brutality takes place in more hidden ways, out of sight if you will, in concentration camps, abortion “clinics”, killing fields, and remote locations away from cameras.
Yes, our murder seems more abstract, but it is not. The death toll is almost unimaginable. And meanwhile we go on considering ourselves civilized.
And the Lord Jesus, looking beyond 70 AD must have seen our times and had them in mind when he said to those women of old that they would see an enemy (Satan): dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls.
Yes, Satan has deceived us with deceptions of power, distortions of freedom, and crushing lies of “choice.” 55 million dead in American alone since 1973, our children dashed to the ground.
The Lord goes on to say, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’  Yes, and those days are here, days when people celebrate barrenness, have themselves surgically sterilized, and celebrate contraception. The days are here when the greatest danger seems to be the “terrible and fearsome proposition” of getting pregnant, of having “too many children.”
Yes, the days are here when most people cry out: blessed is barrenness, blessed are small families. Life it would seem, is a terrible burden to be contracepted and aborted away and some awful threat. It is an age that cries out “Blessed the career women who has not stymied her life and progress by the terrible and terrifying prospect of children.”
Yes, said the Lord to those ancient women, in effect, “You think this is bad? The days are actually coming when things will be so bad and so dark that people will celebrate NOT having children, will celebrate barrenness.”
But the Lord does not stop there. He goes on to describe quite well the culture of death so literally lived out in our times: people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 
Anyone with a tender heart would have been moved to tears at the sight of our Lord's suffering.  The fact that so few were touched by Jesus' suffering shows the coldness and hard-heartedness of the people of that time.  But as Msgr. Pope shows us in his article, we live in a time that is far more evil than Jerusalem at the time of Christ.  When we look at Christ's suffering, He wants us to think of not how he suffered as much as why and the real cause of his suffering, which is our sins.  He wants us to mourn not for him, but for those who refuse to turn away from the sin that put our dear Savior on the Cross.

Christ's suffering had cosmic meaning and purpose:  He suffered to save mankind from sin and death.  The result of his great passion was to pull us literally from hell.  But the suffering of those in Jerusalem  in 70 A.D. and in our evil time will lead only to final damnation.

St. Francis' Way of the Cross:
These devoted women, moved by compassion, weep over the suffering Savior. But He turns to them, saying: "Weep not for Me, Who am innocent, but weep for yourselves and for your children." Weep thou also, for there is nothing more pleasing to Our Lord and nothing more profitable for thyself, than tears shed from contrition for thy sins.
Yes, we need to weep and mourn when we see the suffering of Jesus, but what should really move us is the cause of His suffering, which is the sin and evil in this world, and our own sin.

Credit:  reclaimingourchildren.typepad.com 
From Msgr. Pope:
Of times like 70AD and times like these Jesus says, “Weep.”
Yes, Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matt 5:4). And who are those who mourn? They are those who see the awful state of God’s people, that God is not know to them, that they do not glorify God or even know why they were made, they are confused, deceived, and misled. And some, seeing this are mourning and weeping, they are led to prayer and action, to speaking out, and pointing once again to the light, from the dark places of times like these.
Mourn with Jesus, and pray for a miraculous conversion for times like these, times which seem eerily consistent with the dreadful things Jesus prophesied. 
This Saturday is Holy Saturday.  It has been my experience that Holy Saturday is one of the busiest days at abortion clinics.  It seems that the Adversary really stirs women to kill their babies in that time between the observance of Good Friday, the most solemn holy day of the year, and the great celebration of Easter, when our Lord rose in victory over sin and death.  I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that the tabernacles in all the churches around the world are empty and Holy Saturday is the one day the Church does not celebrate Mass.  Does this somehow gives Satan a false feeling of freedom that he does not have the rest of the year?

From St. Francis Way of the Cross:
O Jesus, Who shall give to my eyes a torrent of tears, that day and night I may weep for my sins? I beseech Thee, through Thy bitter and bloody tears, to move my heart by Thy divine grace, so that from my eyes tears may flow abundantly, and that I may weep all my days over Thy sufferings, and still more over their cause, my sins.
Cry and mourn not for the suffering Savior, who is actually in his most triumphant moment, but for yourself and those around you, who are being destroyed by our own sins.

Lord Jesus Crucified, Have Mercy On Us.

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