Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you dd not know the time of your visitation."
Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, "It is written, 'My house in a house of prayer, but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"
And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.
- Luke 19:41-48
In yesterday's reading, after He told the parable of the Minas, we were told that Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, saying, "Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, 'Why are you loosing it?' thus you shall say to him, 'Because the Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of him." Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: "'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes." In yesterday's reading, we reflected on a commentary from Cyril of Alexandria, in which he noted that in Luke's Gospel, at Jesus' birth there is peace (that is spoken of by the angels who herald His birth). As He enters into Jerusalem to face His human death, there is also peace, as proclaimed by the "children" who greet Him: "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" My study bible tells us that Jerusalem means "foundation of peace." It reminds us of the commentary of St. Ambrose, in which he calls Jesus the "mystic Rider" - who rides into our hearts and minds. My study bible says that "only faith in Christ brings true peace -- a truth hidden from a city that will soon rebel against its Savior."
"For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you dd not know the time of your visitation." My study bible reminds us that the destruction of Jerusalem which Jesus foretells here would occur in AD 70. It says, "This also describes the spiritual end of every person who lacks faith." That Jesus wept over the city tells us of the sadness with which He views the failure on the part of those who failed to "know the time of [their] visitation."
Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, "It is written, 'My house in a house of prayer, but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'" Luke tells us about the cleansing of the temple in a very short two verses. Those who bought and sold in it are those who traded in live animals to be used for sacrifices. Jesus is quoting from the prophets; this is not a "new" problem. The first quotation, regarding God's house as a house of prayer, is from Isaiah 56:7; the second from Jeremiah 7:11: "Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord.
And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him. This is how Jesus spends His time that He has left, teaching daily in the temple at Jerusalem. The stage is set, as His detractors (who are in the religious leadership) seek to destroy Him. But the crowds are delighted to be able to hear Him, and the leaders' fear of the crowd set back their plans, for the moment.
My study bible has an interesting note, also on the subject of peace once again. It refers us to the passage in chapter 10 of Luke's gospel, when Jesus tells the disciples: "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division" (Luke 10:51). The note on that verse reminds us that there are two kinds of peace. There is a false peace (to which Jesus is referring here), which is a "shallow harmony that results from ignoring issues of truth." We can think of it as the suppression where there is no freedom for dialogue or disagreement. My study bible says, "Genuine peace is reconciliation to God through faith in Christ and surrender to truth. Genuine peace has division as a byproduct because not everyone wants truth. In the fallen world, divisions are necessary for truth to be manifest." It seems to me that the peace which we spoke about in yesterday's reading, the kind of peace proclaimed at Jerusalem and by the angels at Jesus' birth in the world, is a peace that is a part of reconciliation to God. Via Christ our faith should lead us to dialogue, and as my study bible implies, even our differences can somehow illuminate glimmers of truth we must take apart and try to manifest and understand in light of what we already understand. But we also know division, between those who want this type of peace and those who want nothing to do with it. And these divisions, in my opinion, will always be with us. In this sense our peace may prevail so that it manifests within us, even at a time of hardship and persecution; this is the "peace that passes understanding" and also the joy that Christ gives us -- both promises made at the Last Supper. It is these things that make for peace that the eyes of the people of Jerusalem "don't see" in Christ's words. It is whether or not we seek the kingdom of God first. Christ has brought with Him and offered His peace, but the division results between those who wish for this His way, and those who refuse. As refusal is so often out of envy, competition, self-centeredness, a deliberate kind of ignorance is how we could characterize this hard-heartedness. Jesus' first move is to cleanse the temple, an action that "calls out" those who do not honor the house of God, which is the house of prayer -- not of commerce and competition, counting profit. Peace is free, except that it takes acceptance on our part, a willingness to see and to do the work it takes to follow Him. But without eyes that see, we won't know the things that make for our peace either. Jesus clearly implies the worldly disaster that results from rejection of true spiritual teaching, and love of God. Shall we remember where His peace and His joy come from? Do we have eyes to see? What do we call peace? What is true peace? Let us remember the mystic Rider who has ridden into Jerusalem on an animal of peace, a donkey's foal. He wishes us His peace in all kinds of circumstances; it is a peace that may result in our persecution, but it overcomes the world, in us.