Pivoting to the Gospel according to Luke, we find Jesus speaking with the daughters of Jerusalem — a shorthand for the city itself in later Old Testament literature. We need three more clues to make sense of this passage.
First, the Gospel of Luke loves cities more than any other gospel. In fact, it goes out of its way to mention a place is a city instead of a town, more than any other part of the New Testament except for the letters by St. Paul. Second, we need to remember the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles is not two books but one. Luke-Acts tells not only the story of Jesus but also of his follows spreading throughout the Roman empire. Now, the last piece of the puzzle. Luke’s Gospel ends in Jerusalem with the disciples rejoicing in seeing the risen Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles end with Paul preaching the good news of Jesus in Rome.
Since antiquity, commentators on Luke-Acts noticed this movement from Jerusalem to Rome. What a triumph for Christianity, they exclaimed! The good news of Jesus spread like wildfire from the sticks of Jerusalem to the sophisticated center of the known world, Rome! Here, when Jesus turns back to the daughters of Jerusalem (with the Rome also implied) and strikes a less optimistic tone. Careful, Jesus suggests, that in your success you do not forget there will be times of sorrow, of hardship. When hardship strikes, be thankful for what you have. Don’t pray the earth to swallow you when the wood is green. Even when the city appears a foreign and less charitable place, still love the heck out of it.