9th Sunday after Pentecost
Looking out over the valley that encircles Jerusalem, there is a church called the Dominus flevit, being the spot where today’s Gospel takes place. It is Palm Sunday, and as the Lord reaches this area from which an extraordinary view of the Holy City can be taken in, he looks over it, and tears begin to flow from His divine eyes. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Holy City, the Beloved One chosen by the God of Israel as the seat of His majesty, the guardian of His promises, His bride, taken from among all nations to live in intimate union with Him. It is upon this Jerusalem that Christ Our Lord sheds His tears on this day, for He sees in prophetic spirit the awful chastisement that is reserved for her who had broken faith with her God. Over and over again Jerusalem fell until the greatest crime of all was committed: the rejection of the Messiah the Son of God, and the choice of submission to an earthly Caesar. “We have no kind but Caesar” the populace cried out on the first Good Friday, and it is Caesar who, scarcely a generation later, will crush Jerusalem with all the might of his military power, and will not leave there a stone upon a stone.
What were her crimes? St Paul in today’s epistle tells us. He mentions three: idolatry, fornication and murmuring. Do not these three sins summarise all the kinds of sin that we humans are prone to fall into? Idolatry, that is the worship of false gods, does not happen only when one prostrates oneself before a pagan idol. It happens every time someone puts something else in the place of the true God; it happens when one transforms the worship of the true God into something that honours or flatters man or is made in his image; fornication is taken here as sins of the flesh in general, those sins which are so easy to commit, but which defile the one who commits them, lowering him to the level of the animal who satisfies its base instincts and turns its mind and heart away from God who is Spirit; murmuring, that is to say, complaints against God and neighbour can be seen to cover all the sins of the mind, in particular sins against fraternal charity and communion.
In the holy city of Jerusalem were prefigured three realities: the Christian soul, the Church, and the eternal Jerusalem, city of God in Heaven. And so when Our Blessed Saviour weeps over Jerusalem, He is also weeping over each soul that commits mortal sin. He wept over you, over me. He is weeping over the sins of the Church, that Church, the new Jerusalem, which has received the promises of eternal life, which is called upon to teach the saving doctrine to all ages. In some periods of her history, and this is certainly one of them, that sublime role is obscured by the sins of members of the Church, by political intrigue, by the cowardice and compromise of its leaders.
Shall we attempt a comparison between the situation described in today’s Gospel and the one we find ourselves in today? There have been a number of wakeup calls over the past 18 months. It’s not a wooden palisade built over dugout trenches like the ones Vespasian had set up to starve Jerusalem to death. Rather it is a ring of steel that has encircled our cities, our countries, our planet, depriving us of the most fundamental liberties. It is an ever-increasing double-speak both in State and Church according to which the powers that be declare that they want to set us free, on the condition that we do what we are told. It is the hardly camouflaged sweet-talk of fidelity to Tradition while separating us from the very roots which make up our Tradition; it is the constant talk of a new order, a new normal, a new world, that will be better than the old, while we are forced to witness growing efforts to redefine what it means to be human, while our children are fed with filth and taught to mutilate their bodies and sell their souls to the devil. The mark of the Enemy is all over it. It is the “abomination of the desolation” that the Lord speaks of. When you hear and see these things, He warns, flee to the mountains (Mt 24:16).
What is it to flee to the mountains if it is not to take refuge in greater, deeper, longer prayer, to examine our conscience frequently, to be attentive, not absent-minded, when it comes to the truths of our faith and the practices of Tradition. It is to stand firm in what is right, come what may, and whatever anyone may say to the contrary. Neither Premier nor Prime Minister nor Queen nor Bishop nor Pope makes the truth. The Truth is what it is regardless of whether or not it is accepted and promoted. Flee to the mountains means flee to the saints. We cannot go wrong by following the example of the saints, whereas we can seriously deviate from the right path, we can even take irreversible turns that lead only to death and damnation if we think that we know better than past generations, if we presume to fabricate a new super humanity or a super religion or a super liturgy that replaces the real humanity created by God, the only true religion revealed by God in the flesh, the sacred liturgy handed down by the saints who shaped it and lived it for so many centuries. As the Lord says elsewhere: “No man drinking old hath presently a mind to new: for he saith: The old is better” (Lk 5:39).
Just as the Romans trampled Jerusalem to the ground, utterly destroyed it so that the Temple could never again be rebuilt, so the enemies of the Church seek to trample her to the ground – utter and complete destruction of all that it means to be a Christian and a Catholic is their goal. For them, the Church must be destroyed, totally eradicated from the earth. It has no place in the new normal, unless, unless it so transforms itself that it is unrecognisable as the True Religion. Why do you think there is such a fierce battle going on at the moment in the US about giving Communion to Joe Biden? Because by giving the Holy of Holies to one of the most radical pro-abortionists in history, a vile and arrogant heretic who presumes to tell the Church what it should teach, by doing that, you are trampling underfoot the most sacred heart of our Faith; you are dragging in the mud the very name of Catholic. You are trampling underfoot the Church of Christ and therefore Christ Himself. Such is the goal of the new normal.
Flee to the mountains can also be understood as an encouragement to imitate the example given to us today by our Blessed Lord; it is to weep over Jerusalem, to weep over the Church, to weep over a world, broken and pulled down into the abyss with growing velocity. At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord proclaimed: Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Who are these mourners? They are those who weep for their sins, for the sins of others, for a world that has lost its bearings. Our Blessed Lady, in a revelation to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres on 2 February 1634, which has come to be known as Our Lady of Good Success, foretold that in the 20th century heresies would spread and dominate and the precious light of the Faith would be extinguished in souls by the almost total corruption of customs added: “The faithful souls would suffer a continuous and slow martyrdom, weeping in secret and imploring that such dire times be shortened”. Yes, today the mourners whom Our Blessed Saviour declares to be truly blessed are those who understand the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in, encircled by mighty powers who seek to strangle to death what remains of the true faith. The reward for these mourners, He says, is that they will receive divine comfort and consolation. In the very midst of their tribulations, they will find an abiding peace and joy, but only on the condition that they energetically side with the Lord as the Maccabees did. As Judas Machabeus proclaimed: “Gird yourselves and be valiant, and be ready that you may fight the nations that are assemble against us to destroy us and our sanctuary. For it is better for us to die in battle, than to see the evils of our nation, and of the holy place: As it shall be the will of God in Heaven, so let it be done” (1 Mac 3:58-60).
A final word: Do not sin against the light. That was the great sin of the Jewish nation, as Our Lord tells us today, that she did not recognise the time of her visitation. She did not know that it was indeed God who was visiting her. As the Lord said to the Pharisees after healing the man born blind: “If you were blind, you should not have sin: but now you say: We see. Your sin remains” (Jn 9:41). And at the Last Supper He will say: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin” (Jn 9:41). Ignorance is no excuse when it is a matter of things we have a duty to know.
This it the hour of the final struggle, the decisive battle between the eternal light and unending darkness; and the Lord Christ has decreed that this hour should be that of His Mother. This is Our Lady’s Hour, and only those who take refuge under her immaculate mantle will be spared. Let us be comforted by a significant detail of the Third Secret of Fatima: “At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand”. The flames of chastisement died out in contact with Our Lady. Clearly, the victory belongs to Her. The coming trial will be great but it will not exceed our strength, as St Paul reminds us in the epistle: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it” (1Co 10:13).
In just three weeks from today, we will celebrate the great feast of Our Lady’s triumph on the Assumption. Let us make ready for this greatest of Marian festivals; let us make ourselves, if not worthy, at least less unworthy, of her visit, by renewed efforts at imitating her virtues: her humility, her purity, her love of God, her passion for the truth, her spirit of self-sacrifice. Now is the hour of the Virgo Potens, the Mighty Virgin, Lady of Victories, whose Immaculate Heart will soon triumph. Let’s make sure we are on the right side of the battle.