approaching Jerusalem from the South
The phrase “going up to Jerusalem” often repeated in the Gospels (and in today’s Gospel reading), has new meaning for me after spending three weeks in the Holy Land last year.
|“And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them,|
|“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death. Matthew 20:17-18|From Tel Aviv, the modern coastal capital city of this land, the road between the airport is a journey through rolling countryside. After an hour the traveller reaches the outskirts of the Holy City. A couple of hours north of Jerusalem is the Sea of Galilee. This region is lush and fertile compared to the road south of Jerusalem where, within minutes we reach the desert leading to the Dead Sea. The city of Jerusalem was the religious centre of the Jewish world. Here was the temple, built on the Mount Zion.
Increasingly between now and Easter, the daily liturgy of the Church reminds us that Jesus is not afraid to go to Jerusalem, even though he knows it will be the place of his suffering and death.
In today’s first reading we see the same pattern of persecution in the life of the prophet Jeremiah.
“Then they said, “Come let us make plots
against Jeremiah, they said” Jeremiah 18
It’s appropriate to notice that at times we are the persecuted. There are times when we feel like Jesus and Jeremiah. We can feel as though other people are making our lives a bit tough to say the least.
This may well be true.
But let’s realise too, that more often than we want to admit, we ourselves are the persecutors.
We may not form committees to lead the battle against another. But in much more subtle ways we are willing to bring down the reputation of someone we may not even know.
We do this by agreeing with the gossip initiated by another. (Gossip is any conversation that does not build up the reputation of another person). We also participate in the ‘making of plots’ against another when we remain silent when gossip is spoken against someone.
Today’s readings are encouraging to those who feel battered at times by the comments and opinions of others.
At the same time these scriptures challenge us to never take the role of persecutor.
the Sea of Galilee April 2010