I have been teaching long enough, that my former students are now grown adults, raising families of their own. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction and pride, as I witness on the one hand, people that I remember as young adolescents seeking to find out how to live their life, and now watching them raise their own children. Many of you have seen the same cycle in your own lives. For those of you who are parents, when your children are grown and have children of their own, I would suspect that there is a certain sense of pride as you see your own children rise to the occasion, becoming great parents, in raising your grandchildren. And as you watch your grandchildren challenge your children in the very same ways that your children challenged you, you might even take a little bit of satisfaction.
Unfortunately, there are also moments, when grandparents witnessed their grandchildren, or their own children, or in my case a teacher who witnesses a former student, who winds up in a great deal of trouble. Sad to say, I have also had former students who threw very bad choices, have found themselves in a very difficult place. Just as there is a certain type of pride that exists when students succeed, there is a deep sadness that occurs when students do not. I know that this sadness exists also for parents when their children don’t live up to their expectations. I know for many parents, who have grown adult children, there can be a deep sadness when they’re grown adult children do not embrace the faith in the way that they do.
At this stage in the Gospels, Jesus finds himself looking over Jerusalem. And as he considers what appears to be inevitably his fate, he is filled with sadness, as he realizes what could have been. Because God has made us free, and the people of Jerusalem were also free, they are able to reject Jesus. And so, is not unusual for Jesus to be sad. It is a natural human instinct to want to protect those we love. As Jesus becomes more conscious of the fate that awaits him, namely his passion and death on the cross, he is filled with sadness of those who might experience similar suffering.
While freedom is indeed a very good thing, it can also be something that is very frustrating. True freedom is that freedom which allows us to become all that we were created to be. For parents, there comes that moment, at some point in the life of their children, where they simply need to let go. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that one definition that I’ve developed for parenthood is that parenthood is that job where your primary goal is to put yourself out of business. What I mean by that, is that for parents, the task of parenthood is always to create more and more interdependent children. Babies cannot stay in the womb. Children need to take the step to move outside of their family. Once they finish high school, students had off to college or a full-time job. Ultimately, grown children marry, or accept the vocation given them at baptism to begin the cycle again.
Jesus knows what each of us can become. As our Creator, he knows all of the gifts in talents that we have been given. Knows our weaknesses, and those things that will tempt us, but ultimately he can see clearly in our own lives that goodness which is so often beyond anything we can imagine for ourselves. And when we do face challenges, Jesus knows he can protect us from those things that are most likely to damage is not just for today or tomorrow or for the next few months or even for the next few years, but Jesus can protect us from those things that could damage us for eternal life.
Because so many in Jerusalem cannot see this, Jesus longs to gather them under his arms, or in the imager uses under the wings like a mother hen. Such is the deep truth of the gospel. Jesus loves us so much, not just at what we can become, for who we are. Jesus longs, however, Casillas move into that experience of faith, into that experience were we can see in ourselves the divine presence of God in whose image and likeness we have been made. Jesus wants to protect us from the very things that could harm us for all eternity. All we need to, is to avail ourselves of that protection of Jesus, by being open to his grace and living as he desires us to live.