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Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.
Through his torture, Jesus remained silent. Now, on his way to execution, he speaks. Though drenched in blood, he speaks not to his own suffering, but to the suffering of others. He speaks to the weeping daughters of Jerusalem: “Do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and your children.”
These women openly associated themselves with the condemned. They cried aloud for Jesus while the disciples hid in the shadows of the text.
The weeping daughters of Jerusalem were likely professional mourners who sang the dirges of lament, helping the people to grieve and to repent. Jeremiah describes the mourners as wise and skillful. They announced the arrival of death. They wept for the violence that overtakes their land and their children. They raised their voices to heaven.
It is to these women that Jesus speaks. To them, he entrusts a message–a prophetic message to cry aloud.
Jesus warns the women of the impending doom of Jerusalem. Within a generation, the Romans would destroy Jerusalem and thousands of people would be slaughtered. Historian Josephus said that the Jordan River was plugged with bodies and the Sea of Galilee turned red with blood. Towns and fields were burned. The horrors led to unthinkable conditions and famine so severe that mothers were said to have eaten their young.
In the words of Hosea: “ ‘They will say to the mountains, 'Fall on us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' It would be better to be swallowed up by the mountains than face the destruction to come."
Oh daughters of Jerusalem, Cry aloud. Lift up your voices! On behalf of your own people, your city, your children - Wail and beat your breasts for all who suffer. Let those who have ears hear.
The Outcry of the Women by Adolfo Perez Esquivel
Theme – Women’s Empowerment - Full of compassion the women bewail the fate of Jesus. He, however, refers them to their own fate: “Do not weep for me…” The Biblical scene is transferred to Ayacucho, Peru, where many fathers and sons are killed and the women are left alone to provide for their families. They say: “Yesterday in the Bible group we read how the people of Israel were oppressed in Egypt. Aren’t we in the same position? God wants to lead us to the promised land too. We should discuss this with the others!”
Painting & Reflection in response to the casualties of the Peruvian civil war in the 1980s.
What does the artist's statement help you see in the painting that you did not notice at first?
What do the colors, textures and postures stir in you?
What does this reveal to you about the passion of Jesus?
Imagine that you are one of the daughters of Jerusalem. As Jesus turns to you and breaks his silence, how do you hear his tone of voice? Does he speak with compassion, condemnation, commission or something else?
In the midst of his own suffering, Jesus turned to the grief of others. He called the mourning women to lift up their voices on behalf of the oppressed - to cry aloud for the children of Jerusalem.
Perhaps today it would be a cry for the children of Allepo, sons of Furgeson, or daughters of Chibok? Who will you raise your voice for today? Where will you lead in the song of lament and repentance? Raise your cry to heaven now.
Beloved Jesus, with tears of pity these women of Jerusalem responded to You, broken, bruised, and beaten, on the road to Calvary. Deepen our faith, so that we may see You in our brothers and sisters, bruised by our envy, beaten down by injustice, and broken by our greed and indifference. Amen.