Palm Sunday Passion Reading


#1

I'm not sure if it belongs here, so moderators please move it to a place that you deem more appropriate. There is a particular passage from the Passion reading this past weekend which has been haunting my thoughts. I read/listened to the Passion four times this weekend since I was working at the church. It was this passage:

A large crowd of people followed jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time people will say to the mountains 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?'"

I may be interpreting this incorrectly, but from the moment I heard this on Saturday night and then for the subsequent three other masses on Sunday, I couldn't help but keep thinking that we are in the days where people are blessing those, including themselves, who have never born children. Did any of your celebrants on Palm Sunday address this particular passage? We had the same priest for each of the same masses and his homily was wonderful, but it did not address this.


#2

In Jesus' day, barrenness was a cause of extreme grief. It wasn't something to celebrate. Lack of children meant that you had no help at home and no one to support an elderly widow. Lack of children meant that you would be a beggar in your old age and die destitute.

Jesus was saying that things were going to get so bad that starving to death in poverty would be preferable to motherhood.

Fast-forward some thirty years, when the Romans tore down Jerusalem and Nero tortured Christians to amuse the Roman masses. Dying in poverty was indeed preferable to watching your son (alongside literally hundreds of other innocents) get nailed to a cross and then set on fire to light up the street at night.

In putting a modern spin on this passage, when today childlessness is often equated with freedom, we completely miss the point.


#3

[quote="Sarabande, post:1, topic:320118"]

I've always understood that passage the way Nan S explained it. --that it wasn't a "blessing" but rather the cry of anguish of people who so fear for the safety of any current (or future) children that they question whether it would be better not to have children at all.

However I must say that the way you looked at that passage is even more scarey. Definitely food for thought!

[/quote]


#4

[quote="Nan_S, post:2, topic:320118"]
In Jesus' day, barrenness was a cause of extreme grief. It wasn't something to celebrate. Lack of children meant that you had no help at home and no one to support an elderly widow. Lack of children meant that you would be a beggar in your old age and die destitute.

Jesus was saying that things were going to get so bad that starving to death in poverty would be preferable to motherhood.

Fast-forward some thirty years, when the Romans tore down Jerusalem and Nero tortured Christians to amuse the Roman masses. Dying in poverty was indeed preferable to watching your son (alongside literally hundreds of other innocents) get nailed to a cross and then set on fire to light up the street at night.

In putting a modern spin on this passage, when today childlessness is often equated with freedom, we completely miss the point.

[/quote]

Thank you for the historical perspective on this and it does make sense all around. :)


#5

A large crowd of people followed jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time people will say to the mountains 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?'"

This is Luke's version of the Olivet Discourse in Matthews Gospel, chapter 24-25.

**When you see the desolating abomination spoken of through Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, a person on the housetop must not go down to get things out of his house, a person in the field must not return to get his cloak. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days. Pray that your flight not be in winter or on the sabbath, for at that time there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. (Matthew 24:15-21)

It's about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the subsequent end of temple worship and handing over of authority from the Levitical priethood to the new Church.

-Tim-


#6

[quote="TimothyH, post:5, topic:320118"]
This is Luke's version of the Olivet Discourse in Matthews Gospel, chapter 24-25.

When you see the desolating abomination spoken of through Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, a person on the housetop must not go down to get things out of his house, a person in the field must not return to get his cloak. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days. Pray that your flight not be in winter or on the sabbath, for at that time there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. (Matthew 24:15-21)

It's about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the subsequent end of temple worship and handing over of authority from the Levitical priethood to the new Church.

-Tim-

[/quote]

Thank you for that. ;)


#7

[quote="Sarabande, post:1, topic:320118"]
I'm not sure if it belongs here, so moderators please move it to a place that you deem more appropriate. There is a particular passage from the Passion reading this past weekend which has been haunting my thoughts. I read/listened to the Passion four times this weekend since I was working at the church. It was this passage:

I may be interpreting this incorrectly, but from the moment I heard this on Saturday night and then for the subsequent three other masses on Sunday, I couldn't help but keep thinking that we are in the days where people are blessing those, including themselves, who have never born children. Did any of your celebrants on Palm Sunday address this particular passage? We had the same priest for each of the same masses and his homily was wonderful, but it did not address this.

[/quote]

Jesus' words: "blessed are the barren," is very ironic. Back in those days, it is women with children who are considered to be blessed; here Jesus is implying that the childless will be lucky because they will not get to see their offspring slaughtered before their eyes. It somewhat echoes Isaiah 54:1.

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD.

The mountains bit, meanwhile, is an allusion to Hosea 10:8:

Samaria's king shall perish
like a twig on the face of the waters.
The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel,
shall be destroyed.
Thorn and thistle shall grow up
on their altars,
and they shall say to the mountains, “Cover us,”
and to the hills, “Fall on us.”

Hosea's words describe Israel's cry for relief from the punishment of its apostasy - they are asking for death the mountains and the hills to bury them. It basically illustrates the horror of a defeated populace facing the wrath of their conqueror. This cry is heard again in the mourning of the daughters of Jerusalem and Jesus' comment on it, which relates the city's reaction to Him to the apostasy of Israel of old. (Note that Revelation 6:16 also alludes to the same passage from Hosea, but applies it in a more universal level.)

As for the comparison between the damp wood and the dry wood (I should note that a similar comparison is made between a green tree and a dry tree in Ezekiel 17:24, but in a different sense), it would seem that Jesus is comparing Himself to the damp wood, which is hard to kindle, and the women of Jerusalem (and the Jerusalemites as a whole) to the easily-combustible dry wood. If God allowed the innocent Jesus (the green wood) to suffer such a fate as Jerusalem prepares for Him, what will be the fate of Jerusalem (the dry wood)? There could also be a contrast between the wood on which Jesus is crucified (not consumed by flames) and the wood of Jerusalem (burned by fire) in its destruction.


closed #8

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