Sunday, November 17
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 21: 5 – 19
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
If you are ever able to make a pilgrimage to Rome, one of the sights to see on the “main drag” of ancient Rome, the Via Sacra, is the Arch of Titus. It was built to commemorate the Emperor Titus’ victory over the First Jewish Revolt in 70 AD, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple. The carved reliefs depict part of Titus’ triumphal victory march, in which soldiers can be seen carrying their spoils from the sacked Temple, such as the golden menorah lamp.
The destruction of the Temple was a religious cataclysm to Jews and early Christians alike. But in Scriptural passages such as we find in today’s Gospel, Christians saw the destruction of the Temple as being foreseen and foretold. The cessation of the Temple rites was part of the unfolding of God’s plan to include even the Gentiles in His salvific plan. As catastrophic as the Temple’s destruction was, even worse calamities and events would yet occur before the Messiah’s return.
We are not called to try to predict the Messiah’s return, but rather to persevere in the Faith. The new heavens and a new earth, the eternal Jerusalem, will be established when God wills it. Our job is to be faithful in the here and now, witnessing to the love of the Holy Trinity, the God of Moses, the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.