Greater love has no man that this, that... (he)... lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Visitors to the Holy Land are often upset by the commercialism, the lack of respect for historical sites and the competition between various Christian traditions. Yet often a place, a word or an event may speak to us in an unforgettable way. On the slopes of the Mount of Olives is a small Franciscan Church, Dominus Flevit, built in the shape of a tear by the French architect Barluzzi. This is reputed to be on the site where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk 19:4). Earlier he had expressed his concern for the city. 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not' (Lk 13:34).
In our medical practice we shall be involved with patients who have, seemingly without thought, brought disaster or ill health on themselves. In many instances innocent people may suffer as a result of their folly. The drunken driver comes to mind, or the avoidable head injury because a seat belt was not worn. The distress of the relatives and remorse of the patient dying from cancer of the lung or oesophageal varices and the recently reported case of fetal alcoholism syndrome are other examples.
It may be difficult for us to treat these patients with the care they need, particularly if the innocent victim is in the same ward as the one responsible for his plight. Those who have treated terrorists and their victims in adjacent beds know this only too well. Irrespective of the authenticity of the site of the Dominus Flevit Church, its message speaks to us in these difficult situations. Through its single large window we see the ancient city with its domes, its minarets and its churches. On the inside of the window is a single empty cross signifying the lengths to which Jesus went in caring not only for Jerusalem, but for the whole world. This is the supreme example of caring. No one else can ever go to this extent, but we often have opportunities for applying the same principles in our practice.
A plaque on the wall opposite the entrance to the Chapel, freely translated, reads: 'The love of God is mourning, O unfathomable grief! God mourns that man, whom he created, has strayed so far from him. Today in love he is calling -- your Saviour Jesus Christ. God is calling, calling, calling. Turn round and come back home today'.
My Saviour weeps: his heart is rent.
I hear his loving sad lament
Upon the Mount of Olives.
Come home, my children, come to me,
I want and yearn so fervently:
For you my heart is open.
Basilea Schlink, The Holy Land Today.
Further reading: Is 53:4-6. Jn 12:20-33.