FRIEDRICH OVERBECK (1789-1869)
WATER-COLOUR ON BOARD - Vatican Museum
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
From the Gospel according to Luke 23:27-31
And there followed him a great multitude of the people,
and of women who bewailed and lamented him.
But Jesus turning to them said,
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me,
but weep for yourselves and for your children.
For behold the days are coming when they will say,
'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore,
and the breasts that never gave suck!'
Then they will begin to say to the mountains,
'Fall on us', and to the hills, 'Cover us.'
For if they do this when the wood is green,
what will happen when it is dry?"
The condemned man's retinue moves ahead.
His escort, soldiers and some weeping women,
women who have come up to the holy city with him and his disciples.
They know this man.
They have heard his word of life,
they love him as teacher and prophet.
Did they hope that he would free Israel? (Lk 24:21)
We do not know, but now they weep for this man
as for a loved one,
as he had wept for Lazarus.
He unites them to his suffering,
a new light illuminates their sorrow.
The voice of Jesus speaks of judgement,
but calls to conversion;
but as a woman's birth-pains.
Green wood will have life again
and dry wood will partake of it.
Jesus, King of glory, crowned with thorns,
your face covered in blood and spittle,
teach us to seek unceasingly your face (Ps 27:8-9)
so that its splendour will enlighten our way (Ps 89:15);
teach us to discover it under the appearance of men
marked by sickness,
prostrated by discouragement,
debased by injustice.
Leave imprinted in our eyes
the features of your beloved face;
of which the "least of your brothers" (Mt 25:40) are a bright reflection,
a sacrament of your presence among us.
accompanied to the hill of the Skull by a retinue of weeping women:
they have discovered your face of light, your word of grace.
R/ To you be praise and glory for ever.