This time of the year, as we approach the end of the Liturgical Year, the readings start to focus on “end things”.
(Next week, with the Feast of Christ the King, we celebrate the Last Sunday of the Liturgical Year “C”, and then after that we start a new Liturgical Year, ‘A”)
This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 21:5-19) links the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem with the end of the world. The destruction of the Temple is also seen as marking the end of the old order of things: a decisive judgement by God on Old Covenant, and the inauguration of the New. It is presented as a forerunner of God’s judgement on all peoples at the end of time. Like St Augustine, in the fourth century, said: ‘We have not here, a lasting city’. Many have tried to predict when the end-times will be, and many have failed. No one really knows when it will be.
Although the world as we know it will end, as I preached at the School Mass last week, the Christian message is about God coming to renew, not to destroy, the physical world. That is why we are meant to work for a better earth, captured perhaps by the catch phrase: “Make the world a better place than you found it”. In that task, we work for justice and peace etc. In the practical sense, it is captured by living the two greatest commandments: loving God with all our heart, mind and soul, and loving our neighbour as ourselves. What is also important is that we heed Our Lord’s call for the virtue of endurance, endurance in a background of suspicion, hate, misunderstanding and even persecution.
Perhaps our own understanding of the Gospel and our witnessing of it, both as communities and individuals, if they do not attract misunderstanding and even persecution, gives us reason to fear that we have not witnessed Christ’s message authentically.
God bless, Fr Michael