Reading today’s gospel you could be forgiven for thinking it is describing our current world with its nations and kingdoms fighting and its earthquakes, plagues and famines in different areas. Not only that, it becomes very personal: people ‘will seize you and persecute you’ – something that happens in our own country, too often even to young people!
And yet, at the end of each liturgical year the Church presents us with these or similar images.
Why might that be?
Luke spends about half his gospel presenting Jesus working his way towards Jerusalem and every day in these last weeks of his life Jesus teaches in the Temple. It was a very impressive venue and you can understand the people admiring it. The Temple itself was a very large, complex and beautiful building, having been built, adorned and decorated over centuries. It was the very centre of Jewish life and religion and held a supreme place in the people’s imagination. And yet, here is Jesus talking about it being destroyed, with not a single stone left on another!
If we listen carefully we will note that ‘all this must happen but the end is not so soon’. So there will be a time of waiting. We know now, in the second millennium, that the time of waiting is very long indeed.
Perhaps that is why the Church at the Second Vatican Council called us a Pilgrim Church, all the time on the journey to the promised Reign of God.
Luke has Jesus encourage us, ‘Your endurance will win you your lives’. Today we might call it resilience – certainly patience. When have you felt the need for such patience?
Jesus also reassures us that when we feel under attack or threatened ‘I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom’. How often have you said, ‘I don’t know where the words came from. They just worked!’ Or, after dealing with a tangled situation, ‘All at once the way forward seemed clear’.
What other signs of encouragement or hope do you find in the three readings in today’s Mass?