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. “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.
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.
In today’s Gospel Jesus comments on the impending destruction of the Temple after bystanders were speaking in awe of its beauty. We can get a sense of the situation if we imagine ourselves before St. Peter’s Basilica as someone tells us this magnificent church will soon be flattened. With Jesus’ onlookers we ask, “When will this happen?” But Jesus does not offer an answer. Instead He speaks of a broader context of turmoil, persecution, and devastation for all those linked to the Temple.
What does this have to do with us today? Consider the Church not as a building but rather as the Body of Christ. We live as Christ’s presence in a deeply wounded world. Because we are in but not of the world, we will be attacked. Will we stay true to our calling, being aware of Christ’s promise of remaining with us and giving us the necessary wisdom to respond?
—Fr. Ken Styles, S.J. does pastoral ministry at Walsh Jesuit High School, Cuyahoga Falls, OH.
God our Father, because of your generous mercy we do not lack any spiritual gift as we await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. May he sustain us to the end so that we will be blameless on the day of his coming.
—Paraphrase of I Corinthians 1: 7-9