Thursday (November 23):  "Know the time of your visitation"

Meditation:  What enables us to live in peace and harmony with our families, neighbors, local communities, and the wider community of peoples and nations? The Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to reconcile us with God and to unite us with one another in a bond of peace and mutual love.

Jesus' earthly ministry centers and culminates in Jerusalem, which Scripture describes as the holy city, the throne of the Lord (Jeremiah 3:17);and the place which God chose for his name to dwell there (1 Kings 11:13; 2 Kings 21:4; 2 Kings 23:27); and the holy mountain upon which God has set his king (Psalm 2:6). Jerusalem derives its name from the word "salem" which mean "peace". The temple in Jerusalem was a constant reminder to the people of God's presence with them.

Tears of mourning and sorrow over sin and refusal to believe in God
When Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the multitude of homes surrounding the holy temple, he wept over it because it inhabitants did not "know the things that make for peace" (Luke 19:42). As he poured out his heart to the Father in heaven, Jesus shed tears of sorrow, grief, and mourning for his people. He knew that he would soon pour out his blood for the people of Jerusalem and for the whole world as well.

Why does Jesus weep and lament over the city of Jerusalem? Throughout its history, many of the rulers and inhabitants - because of their pride and unbelief - had rejected the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Now they refuse to listen to Jesus who comes as their Messiah - whom God has anointed to be their Savior and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is our only hope - the only one who can save us and the world
Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was a gracious visitation of God's anointed Son and King to his holy city. Jerusalem's lack of faith and rejection of the Messiah, however, leads to its eventual downfall and destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. Jesus' lamentation and prophecy echoes the lamentation of Jeremiah who prophesied the first destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Jeremiah's prayer of lamentation offered a prophetic word of hope, deliverance, and restoration:

"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies are new every morning ...For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men" (Lamentations 3:21-22, 31-32).

Jesus is the hope of the world because he is the only one who can truly reconcile us with God and with one another. Through his death and resurrection Jesus breaks down the walls of hostility and division by reconciling us with God. He gives us his Holy Spirit both to purify us and restore us as a holy people of God. Through Jesus Christ we become living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).  God has visited his people in the past and he continues to visit us through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit. Do you recognize God's gracious visitation of healing and restoration today?

God judges, pardons, heals, and restores us to new life
When God visits his people he comes to establish peace and justice by rooting out our enemies - the world (which stands in opposition to God), the flesh (our own sinful cravings and inordinate desires), and the devil (who is Satan, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning - John 8:44) who enslave us to fear and pride, rebellion and hatred, envy and covetousness, strife and violence, and every form of evil and wrong-doing. That is why God both judges and purifies his people - to lead us from our sinful ways to his way of justice, peace, love, and holiness. God actively works among his people to teach us his ways and to save us from the destruction of our own pride and sin and from Satan's snares and lies.

Are God's judgments unjust or unloving? Scripture tells us that "when God's judgments are revealed in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9). To pronounce judgment on sin is much less harsh than what will happen if those who sin are not warned to repent. The Lord in his mercy gives us grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a moment, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. Do you accept the grace to turn away from sin and to walk in God's way of peace and holiness?

"Lord Jesus, you have visited and redeemed your people. May I not miss the grace of your visitation today as you move to bring your people into greater righteousness and holiness of life. Purify my heart and mind that I may I understand your ways and conform my life more fully to your will."


This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/