One of the richer texts of the Mass is the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer.
That used on Sunday, at the Mass of All Saints, uses the image of Jerusalem as the community of saints.
The glory of Jerusalem, our mother
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For today by your gift we celebrate the festival of your city,
the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother,
where the great array of our brothers and sisters
already gives you eternal praise.
Towards her, we eagerly hasten, as pilgrims advancing by faith,
rejoicing in the glory bestowed upon those exalted members of the Church
through whom you give us, in our frailty, both strength and good example.
And so, we glorify you with the multitude of Saints and Angels,
as with one voice of praise we acclaim:
Holy, holy holy Lord…
Although it refers to the ‘New Jerusalem’ of the Book of Revelation, there is a certain mismatch between what we hope for, and what is presently realised in the earthly Jerusalem, where prejudice, fear, violence, oppression and the consequences of prejudice, fear, violence, oppression divide and damage the communities of the city.
The mismatch dispels romantic religiosity and easy optimism. Yet it reminds of the situation in which Jesus incarnated God’s saving love – with its betrayal of the promise of religion and human decency. Jesus bore faithful witness and his destruction (as a human being) was responded to by God the Father by his being raised to the new life of the Resurrection.
Where he has been we follow, responding to the challenges of our time and often enduring suffering in our turn, but also we follow Jesus into the glory of God’s saving mercy.
Photograph of Jerusalem through the window of the church of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.