Tears flow

As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’ (Luke 19.41-44)

I find it reassuring to know that Jesus wept. This is not the only place in the gospels where Jesus cries. As he approaches the tomb of his friend Lazarus he is overcome with grief and people see it and say ‘See how he loved him.’ (John 11.37) It was out of love for his friend that he wept and now out of love for the city, laid out before him, that he weeps. The traditional site of where this happened is on the slope of the Mount of Olives where there is a beautiful, heart stopping, tear jerking view of the city with the Dome of the Rock and the Golden Gate (bricked up of course) in front of you. The church that stands there, looked after by the Franciscans, is called ‘Dominus Flevit’ – ‘The Lord wept’ – and is shaped to look like a tear drop.

The view from Dominus Flevit across the city of Jerusalem

The view from Dominus Flevit across the city of Jerusalem

So what makes you cry? What makes me cry? In some ways I cry easily, to music or a film; but do I cry easily about what should make me weep – the injustice in the world, the plight of refugees, the homeless in our own city, child abuse, trafficking? The truth is I don’t think I do. And I can’t simply blame my Anglo-Saxon roots and a stiff upper-lip mentality because it would be insincere to blame either of those things. I am in touch with my emotions, so why don’t I weep for what I should weep for? Am I inured to it all in some way? But if it was good enough for Jesus, the right response for Jesus, then why not for me?

DROP, drop, slow tears,​
And bathe those beauteous feet​
Which brought from Heaven​
The news and Prince of Peace:​
Cease not, wet eyes,
His mercy to entreat;​
To cry for vengeance​
Sin doth never cease.​
In your deep floods​
Drown all my faults and fears;
Nor let His eye​
See sin, but through my tears.​

A Litany by Phineas Fletcher (1580–1650)


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