The first reading for today is drawn from the poignant Book of Lamentations. Had it not been for the solemnity we celebrated yesterday, we would have heard of the destruction that Nebuchadnezzar brought down upon Jerusalem and her king. The Book of Lamentations tells us of the bitter grief, the wrenching trial of faith, the seeming betrayal of divine promises for Jerusalem and the Davidic dynasty. These very human reactions to the destruction of Jerusalem become the inspired Word of God. These sorrowful lines, this lamentation in the presence of the Lord, become God’s own thoughts when they are incorporated into the Scriptures. They describe not just the human reactions to the destruction of Jerusalem but the inmost feelings of the God who repeatedly initiated attempts to build a relationship with the children of Israel.
The Gospel portrays Jesus as a person who could not pass by a sick person without being moved to compassion. It made no difference who the sick person was – a foreigner, a despised Roman centurion, a leper, a poor widow, a demented person roaming through the countryside or a close friend’s mother-in-law. All of them become the objects of God’s pity as the Incarnate Word of God confronted human misery.
Whether it be grief or compassion, God’s emotional response is personified in Jesus. Jesus takes on the role of the suffering servant of God and manifests a God who loves by loving all who come to him in need. When we come to the table of the Lord, as we do every day, we come in need. We need God’s compassion, God’s healing, God’s mercy, and God’s love. Only those who are in need can be filled. Only those who empty themselves of all pride can be satisfied.
Jesus suffered throughout his life, not just as he hung upon the cross. He carried with him God’s grieving heart and, by touching all those who came to him, he spilled out the treasure of God’s love. The treasure is ours for the taking, but it is only given to those in need of it.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator