When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’
The Gospel on Sunday, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, speaks of falling and rising.
The start of Jesus’ words concerns the fate of buildings, but also the dislocation of religious practice. With the final loss of Jerusalem’s Temple in AD70 Judaism ceased to have a place to sacrifice, and its cult became much closer to that of Christianity today.
Jesus goes on to talk of the life of the individual believer and the life of the community of believers as being where faithfulness is exercised. Sometimes in the extreme circumstances of persecution, more regularly in the events of daily life, but always in every circumstance we are invited to give witness to God and the Gospel. Our faith sustains us, and our witness is to sustain others.
- When/how has the faith of others offered you encouragement?
- When has the example of others led you astray?
- What,presently, helps you to faithfulness?
- What, presently, helps you to help others?
Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Jerusalem. (c) 2012, Allen Morris