Provincial's Reflection

A time of lamentation

Many are calling our current period a time of lamentation, says Australian Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ in his latest video message.

Many are calling our current period a time of lamentation, says Australian Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ in his latest video message. We lament because we cannot be what we wish we could be. Yet we gain hope and strength in the knowledge that Jesus walks alongside us. Full transcript below.

Some people are saying that here, and across the world, in this time of the pandemic, so many uncertainties are making us exhausted. And that is true.

But I also think we are now in a period of lament. We are lamenting what we have, what we don’t have, and what we wish to have.

Lamenting has many shapes and colours. It captures frustrations and uncertainties. Hurts. Even anger.

We cannot be the people we wish to be, and we lament when we cannot be.

We hear stories of people who cannot cross borders to be with their families and loved ones.

We hear stories of people who cannot come back from overseas to be reunited with their families.

We hear of the thousands of health workers who have been infected with a virus.

And we continue here sad stories of people overseas. Poor leadership in some countries, and thousands of people who suffer the virus and die.

We lament. And we are sad.

And it draws us back to Psalm 137: ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, remembering Zion’. The people of Israel exiled from Jerusalem,  taken away from their country, from all that was important for them, they lament and wail and weep by the rivers of Babylon.

Now our laments are not as serious as theirs in many ways. Yes, some of us in Melbourne and Victoria will lament the AFL going to Queensland.

We will lament many things over these months that we cannot have. We can’t get away, we cannot travel, we can’t even move in some parts across to see families and friends.

But our lament is nothing compared with the refugees on the island of Lesbos, or those escaping the confusion and the chaos and the destruction in Lebanon, and so forth.

The lament that many people are experiencing across the world today is great. And our is part of this.

Now Jesus, in the nineteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel, comes into Jerusalem, and he weeps.

He weeps for what he sees. He weeps because the peace and the gifts that were offered to that city have not been acknowledged and accepted. He weeps and his journey then begins in Jerusalem with weeping, taking him to his crucifixion and cross, and then to resurrection and new life.

I think our journey is there. It is in weeping with him, lamenting in Jerusalem, in our land, in our country, in our world. For the brokenness, for the hurt, the frustration, the vulnerabilities, the deaths, the poor leadership, and the many shapes that lament takes.

And I think it’s important that we accept that we are people of lamentation at this time.

But it’s not a lamentation that draws us back to further ill health, or mental ill health, or depression, or anger, or frustration that takes us inward.

It’s a lament takes us to be on a journey with Jesus and each other through this period of suffering to new life.

And one way we can do it is to stay with him who lamented. and cried, and wept, as he entered Jerusalem.

We walk with Jesus. We stay with Jesus. We stay together with Jesus as our companion, and friend.

Stay with him. Stay with those you love. Lament as you need to. But be hopeful for the life that lies before us, and with him.

Image: ‘An den Wassern Babylons’, Gebhard Fugel (Wikimedia Commons).