Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent-2007

Now we are going up to Jerusalem--Matthew 20:18

JESUS is going to Jerusalem to fulfill his destiny. He knows it. From the beginning he has before his eyes all our sins which he will redeem. Now, little by little, day by day, their weight I ies on him more heavily, for the moment approaches when he must pay. The cross. And he alone; all the others are busy with silly dreams.
We too; there is our business and the stock exchange which is not going well and which is worrying us. Or else it is working out all right and our worries are no less. There are clients and there is the price of butter. All that is so much more important than the cross of Jesus.

--Jacques LeClerq

POOR JERUSALEM, words by Tim Rice

Neither you Simon, nor the fifty thousand
Nor the Romans, nor the Jews, nor Judas nor the Twelve,
Nor the Priests, nor the Scribes
Nor doomed Jerusalem itself,
Understand what power is
Understand what glory is
Understand at all understand at all
If you knew all that I knew, my poor Jerusalem
You'd see the truth, but you close your eyes
But you close your eyes
While you live your troubles are many, poor Jerusalem
To conquer death you only have to die
You only have to die

JERUSALEM: the face visible yet hidden, the sap and the blood of all that makes us live or renounce life. The spark flashing in the darkness, the murmur rustling through shouts of happiness and joy. A name, a secret. For the exiled, a prayer. For all others, a promise. Jerusalem: seventeen times destroyed yet never erased. The symbol of survival. Jerusalem: the city which miraculously transforms humans into pilgrims; no one can enter it and go away unchanged.

For me, it is also a little town somewhere in Transylvania, lost in the Carpathians, where, captivated as much by mystery as by truth, a Jewish child studies the Talmud and is dazzled by the richness and melancholy of its universe made up of legend.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, the storyteller of Hasidism, liked to say that no matter where he walked, his steps turned toward Jerusalem. As for me, I discovered it in the sacred word. Without taking a single step. I saw it then, as I see it now.

Here is the Valley of Jehoshaphat, where one day the nations will be judged. The Mount of Olives, where one day death will be vanquished. The citadel, the fortress of David, with its small turrets and golden domes where suns shatter and disappear. The Gate of Mercy, heavily bolted: Let anyone other than the Messiah try to pass and the earth will shake to its foundations.

And higher than the surrounding mountains of Moab and Judea, here is Mount Moriah, which since the beginning of time has lured humans in the quest of faith and sacrifice. It was here that we first opened our eyes and saw the world that henceforth we would share with death; it was here that, maddened by loneliness, we began speaking to our Creator and then to ourselves. It was here that two sons, our forefathers, discovered that which links innocence to murder and fervor to malediction. It was here that the first believer erected an altar on which to make an offering of both past and future. It was here, with the building of the Temple, that we proved ourselves worthy of sanctifying space as God had sanctified time.

This city of unshakable memory, I admit loving it, I even admit loving its hold over me. Distant lands no longer lure me. The seeker is weary of seeking, the explorer of self-excitement. Beneath this sky in which colors and faces clash, steps in the night reverberate to infinity; one listens, spellbound, overwhelmed. Follow them far enough and you will take by surprise a king lost in a dream, a prophet who reduces life and language to dust. Why then don't yoU follow them? You are afraid. The beggars are not.

--Elie Wiesel

My battles are fought out inside, with my own demons; it is not in my nature to tilt against the savage, cold-blooded fanatics who clamour for our destruction. I am not afraid of them either, I don't know why; I am so calm it is sometimes as if I were standing on the parapets of the palace of history looking down over far-distant lands. This bit of history we are experiencing right now is something I know I can stand up to. I know what is happening and yet my head is clear. But sometimes I feel as if a layer of ashes were being sprinkled over my heart, as if my face were withering and decaying before my very eyes, and as if everything were falling apart in front of me and my heart were letting every¬thing go. But these are brief moments; then everything falls back into place, my head is clear again and I can once more bear and stand up to this piece of history which is ours. For once you have begun to walk with God, you need only keep on walking-with God and all of life becomes one long stroll--such a marvelous feeling.

--Etty Hillesum

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son.

---The Book of Common Prayer

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