Column: Prophecy foreshadows role of Jerusalem

Father Mike Stubbs is the pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park and has a degree in Scripture from Harvard University.
Father Mike Stubbs is the pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park and has a degree in Scripture from Harvard University.

by Father Mike Stubbs

Mention Gettysburg to anyone, and it brings to mind the Civil War battle fought there. Similarly, mention Waterloo, and it calls to mind Napoleon’s defeat. Certain places will forever be associated with decisive battles. Among those is Megiddo.

In 610 B.C., the armies of King Josiah of Judah lost a battle to the forces of the Egyptian Pharaoh on the plains of Megiddo. King Josiah was killed. The loss of that battle meant the effective end of independence

for the Jewish nation, except for a brief period under the Maccabees. It was a sad moment for Israel. Josiah had been a very popular king, full of promise. But all that was ended, along with their independence.

That perhaps explains the obscure verse in Sunday’s first reading — Zac 12:10-11; 13:1: “On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.” The entire population is grieving the loss of this important figure. Think of how people in the United States mourned Abraham Lincoln when he was assassinated, or President Kennedy when he was shot. The prophecy anticipates a similar outpouring of sorrow from the people at large: “They shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.”

In the midst of this sorrow, though, they will experience grace. God promises: “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition.”

The prophecy focuses on Jerusalem. It mentions that city three times. It fore-
sees Jerusalem as the place where this tragedy will unfold, as well as the location where grace will be found: “On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.”

Jerusalem is the city that witnesses the crucifixion of Jesus. it is a place of great sorrow. The Blessed Virgin Mary will see her only son put to death there: “And they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son.”

At the same time, Jerusalem will be the city that will see a great outpouring of grace because of Jesus’ death. His death on the cross will bring us salvation. We will enter into the saving mystery of his death and resurrection through the sacrament of baptism.

In the waters of baptism, the words of the prophecy find fulfillment: “On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.”

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