Sister Ann Astell | May 3, 2017
Dominus Flevit (“The Lord Wept”) names a chapel on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem. It commemorates an event recorded in the Gospel According to Luke, where Jesus is said to have paused during his triumphant approach to the city from the towns of Bethany and Bethphage in the east. Surrounded by his disciples, honored with raised palm branches, hailed with cries of hosanna as the son of David, Jesus stopped on the way, saw the city, and wept over its coming destruction (Luke 19:41-44).
On Friday, March 17, 2017, together with 18 Notre Dame undergraduates and seven other pilgrims, I participated in a Holy Mass concelebrated there by Father Gary Chamberlain, CSC , Father Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P., and Father Gregory Tatum, O.P. Facing the altar, we beheld through a clear window the city stretched out majestically before us. Our vision aligned with that of Jesus, we faced the Temple Mount. The Temple itself was razed to the ground by the Romans in 67 A.D., as Jesus tearfully foresaw. Holy to the Jews, the mount on which it once stood is now the site of the Muslim “Dome of the Rock,” marking the place from which the prophet Muhammad is said to have ascended into heaven. Its golden dome stood prominent in the vista before us.
Dominus flevit. The Gospels record that Jesus was twice moved to tears. Sorrowing with the sorrowful, he wept over the death of Lazarus, whom he loved (John 11:35). Approaching Jerusalem, he also wept — a measure of his great love for the city and its people.
I had forgotten that Jesus wept over Jerusalem and prophesied its destruction in the midst of the triumphant ride that we commemorate every Palm Sunday. The people hailed him as king, laying their cloaks on the path over which donkey and colt carried him, but Jesus spoke to them in the very hour of their exultation, lamenting, “you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God” (Luke 19:44). The city named for peace (salem, shalom) would know a terrible violence. Jesus’s view of the city on that day was also a vision of its future.