Jeremiah said: I hear so many disparaging me,‘“Terror from every side!”Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’All those who used to be my friends watched for my downfall,
The Jews fetched stones to stone Jesus,
The words of the prophet Jeremiah in today’s first reading would have been familiar to Jesus from his Old Testament studies. In today’s gospel passage we understand that Jesus himself is the subject of this prophecy.
Tomorrow we celebrate Palm Sunday. It is important that we don’t simply remember the events of this next week, Holy Week, as a recall of historic events, but that we accept an invitation to experience these events in the life of Jesus as a prophecy of the suffering and hope in our own lives.
There are times when each of us feel denounced, even by those who might love us. There are times too when every one of us fears that others might be reaching for stones to use against us.
In the life of Jesus we see that such unwanted and often unwarranted suffering is more of a pathway than it is an end.
For the people of the Old Testament the great city of Jerusalem surrounded the magnificent temple and was a city of pilgrimage.
This holy mountain was a place built into the heart of every believer in the One God, the place where heaven touched earth, the mount where Abraham had taken Isaac for sacrifice, the site on which the Ark of the Covenant had been placed containing the Ten Commandments, the Mountain of the Lord.
But Jesus understood going up to Jerusalem in a new way. He knew that the path of fully-lived life involved suffering and that his own pilgrimage towards Jerusalem involved carrying his cross to death which became the pathway to resurrection.
Jesus takes his disciples aside and said to them: “Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests to be be mocked and scourged and crucified; and on the third day he will rise again.”
Pedro Arrupe was the Superior General of the Society of Jesus for eighteen years from 1965 until a debilitating stroke required him to be replaced in this position in 1983. He did not find this easy, and for the next ten years until his death in 1991 he suffered greatly.
In the midst of this suffering he wrote a perfect prayer for the disciple of Jesus who is struggling with personal suffering. You might like to share this prayer with people you know who are suffering, telling them something of the circumstance of suffering that led Arrupe to write this.
“More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.
But now there is a difference;
the initiative is entirely with God.
It is indeed a profound spiritual experience
to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands”.
- In the heart of this Lenten journey to Jerusalem, the place of death and resurrection, take time to reflect with the prayer of Pedro Arrupe above.