Tuesday, October 01, 2013

O Jerusalem!

Jesus' exclamation seems to come naturally on reading the Liturgy of the Word for today's Mass (unless you use the special readings for St Therese). In the first reading, the prophet Zechariah regales the bewildered, poverty-stricken returnees in Jerusalem with a vision of a future for their ruined city. "Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem.... ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say, 'Let us go with you'."

That impossible vision began to be fulfilled in the Gospel reading for the day: Jesus, accompanied by the Twelve and preceded by messengers, "turned his face toward Jerusalem." (The Greek is so much more telling than the English "resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.") And ever since that day, "many peoples and strong nations" have undertaken the same journey.

Every person who has ever encountered God owes it to the rest of humanity to witness to Him by turning his or her face toward Jerusalem.

But what if Zechariah's Jew, the blessed descendant of Abraham and inheritor of the promises, was not "turned toward Jerusalem"? Where would those eager Gentiles be led? And what of those Catholics who are living a compromised faith? When people come to them and say, "You're a Catholic. Help me understand what your Church, what your Pope says about....?" What "city" are they showing these hopeful inquirers? The dwelling-place of God or just another ruined city?

Isn't this what makes Therese so significant? We read her story and we want to take hold of the edge of her Carmelite mantle and say, "Let us go with you!" And she obligingly shows us her roadmap--a trustworthy "little way" for the faint of heart.

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