When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Jesus knows how to get the attention of his listeners—he predicts the destruction of the temple. But when someone peaks our interest we want to know more, right? So they ask, “When will this be and what will be the sign?” The signs Jesus gives would have been familiar yet disturbing to his listeners. Jesus has their attention (a good thing) yet they will now be tempted to read into everything that seems to fulfill the prophecy.
I often find, in my life as a student, God gets my attention through a question (goods thing). And then the enemy of our human nature latches on to that question—using it to stir up anxiety and an unnecessary urgency in finding the answer (things not of God). Saint Ignatius reminds us of the importance of discerning these interior movements and asking God, “What part of this is from you?”
—Brad Held, S.J., a Jesuit of the Wisconsin province, is currently a theology student at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He has just come from 3 years of teaching at Red Cloud Indian School on the Holy Rosary Jesuit Mission in Pine Ridge, SD.
Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others. Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave to St. Ignatius.
—Pedro Arrupe, S.J., in Hearts on Fire, ed. Michael Harter, S.J., © Loyola Press, Chicago, 2004.