USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
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.”
Good News Reflection:
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus and the disciples discuss the Final Judgment Day. To the world, this will look like the ultimate disaster. But if we refuse to belong to the world, because we belong to the kingdom of God, for us Judgment Day will mean hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You are now totally free from evil!”
Belonging to God’s kingdom is counter-cultural — and it’s become even more obviously so in today’s world. To escape the Final Judgment, we have to believe in Jesus and what he taught, but we have to also follow him and do what he taught. This requires ridding ourselves of every worldly behavior that is not Christ-like. Moral relativism is one example. Christ taught moral absolutes, but the world wants us to accept the idea that everyone can safely make up their own minds about what is sinful and what is not.
The end of the world fascinates us. Hollywood movies about it are box office hits. Christian novels about it are top sellers. The predictions of Nostradamus are more popular than ever, and psychics who talk about it attract large followings. Natural disasters are declared as chastisements against sinners by Christians who are looking for signs that Jesus is coming to rescue us from these sinners.
Why all this fascination with the end of the world? It’s because we want Jesus (if not aliens or superheroes) to rescue us from evil. However, we are called by God to be real heroes — Jesus in the flesh right now, today. Bold and courageous Christians who are more interested in being unlike the world than in seeing the end of the world, for this is how we put an end to evil now.
We should be more interested in what we can do for Christ in the present than in what he can do for us in the future.
Rather than telling others they will be punished in the impending doom, we should be spreading Christ’s love so much here and now that we lay strong foundations for a better future.
When the disciples asked for clues about the timing of the disaster that Jesus described, he warned them to be careful lest they fall prey to deceptions. He knew that focusing on the future can easily causes misinterpretations and mistaken predictions.
Jesus wasn’t being a soothsayer when he warned that the holy temple would get torn down. He was talking about the here and now of his interaction with the disciples: The Messiah had come and therefore the stone temple was no longer needed.
His words also apply to our own here and now: Our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit, will die and decay, but our Messiah has come. Living in him and through him today will secure our future in the kingdom of God, even if the Second Coming of Christ does not occur in our lifetimes.
In the meantime, when plagues of hardships infect our lives, or when famines make us hungry for whatever we lack, or when earthquakes like the loss of a job or the death of a loved one shakes up our world, we’re comforted by remembering that this is normal for this world and we do not belong to this world. We take action to make the world a better place, but we do not live in fear nor do we wait for Jesus to do the work without us.
Even when it seems like our problems will bring a permanent end to what had been good for us, the fearsome omens should not dismay us. Our Messiah is with us! So keep your eyes on Jesus, here and now.
Thank You, Lord, because You gave me Your Holy Spirit. Give me through Him the grace of discerning the signs You give me along the journey. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica