Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 21:5-19: Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost, November 13, 2022

The Gospel of Luke 21:5-19

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, `I am he!’ and, `The time is near!’ Do not go after them.

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by 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 of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Let us Pray: Heavenly Father, as Your beloved children, we surrender ourselves to You. Set us free from the fear of the unknown that underlies in our hearts and help us overcome the persecutions and temptations that would surely challenge us as we continue on our journey of living out Your will. We will strive to remain steadfast in our faith. We offer to You, Lord God, all the glory and praises, and all that we may achieve through Your Name. This we pray in the mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

After a quick detour to do a reflection on the Epistle, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17. I will continue with a gospel reflection. I took the detour because I felt that Epistle was very appropriate for today’s world.

We may not like it, we may deny it, we may resist it, but the reality is things are changing. Our world is changing, the church is changing, our lives are changing. Sometimes changes are welcome. But there are days when change brings turmoil or the fear of chaos. There are days when our life is forever changed, the world is different, and nothing is like it used to be. We all know about those days. They seem to be very prevalent in today’s world. The words of Jesus seem so true today. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful warnings and great signs from heaven.” These are the days when the temples of our life and world fall. It is not just our individual temples, however. It seems the falling temples are everywhere. As a world, the temples of our economic systems are in ruins. The job market is unstable. Globally we read of wars, plagues, famines. Nations have risen against nation, kingdom against kingdom, even religion against religion. Security, peace, and diplomacy have given way to fear, violence, and terrorism. Temples are falling everywhere. Jesus looks at the temple and says, “The days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” Jesus is speaking about more than just the physical temple in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem temple includes every temple we have.

So, what would we do if our temple falls?

Do we look for a scapegoat, someone to blame or even demonize. So, who do we blame for violence in the world. We look for someone or a group who does not think, act, or believe like we do. That is not Jesus’ response. Some people will simply give up and walk away in despair. They can see nothing left. All is lost and the situation is hopeless. Some will become angry, resentful, and fight back. Many will look for easy answers, quick fixes, a return to the ways before the temple fell. Again, this is not Jesus’ response. Jesus’ response is just the opposite. Be still, be quiet, do not be led astray. Do not allow your life to be controlled or determined by fear. Do not listen to the many voices that would cause you to run and go after them. Endure he says. Be faithful, steadfast, persevere here and now. Jesus is calling us to be present and faithful in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. If we cannot find God here, in our present circumstances, even in the midst of our temple ruins, we will find God nowhere.

The greater story is how we discovered God next to us in the temple ruins and how, stone by stone, God rebuilt what we could not. It is the ongoing story of God recreating life out of loss and ruin, a story of God rejoicing and delighting in his people.

As we look at our own temples are they built with splendor and are awesome and if they fall will we recover or are our temples built with love and respect not only for ourselves but for others. Have we built it strong enough, so it won’t fall? Jesus encourages us to “seek what will last,” to seek what is good and loving.  If each one of us did this, we might change our hearts, our country and perhaps our world.  What will we choose today?  Will we simply maintain the status quo?

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trials and difficulties. Help us to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder us from pursuing your way of righteousness and holiness. Fill us with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom. This we pray in your name.  Amen

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