The Destruction of the Temple Foretold
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus 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.’
Jesus said: Beware that you are not led astray.
As a parish priest I have often encountered those who put their love of a church building, along with its furniture and other adornments, ahead of their calling to love and serve in the name of Jesus Christ. I have often witnessed the hoarding (and hiding) of money “just in case” the church (that is, the building) “might” need some sort of maintenance or repair, rather than that money being used to support and develop the mission and ministry of the Church (that is, the universal community of faithful believers). Such inward-looking and self-serving attitudes fly in the face of Jesus’ words of warning: Beware that you are not led astray.
In today’s reading Jesus speaks of the inevitable destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. According to Jewish tradition the first temple was built in the 10th century BC, and was destroyed by the Babylonians in c.587 BC. The temple of which Jesus was speaking, the second temple, had a longer history but was destined to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Like so many modern churchgoers, first century Jews attached much affection and great value to the place where they gathered in worship; it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts. But … what about their, and our, true mission in the name of God?
We live in a troubled and divided world; a world in which there are wars and insurrections; a world that seems overrun with famines and plagues; a world in which human greed and self-interest is wreaking havoc. And yet, despite these enormous issues, and the many others we have created for ourselves, there are still those who put ancient buildings before the welfare of others; there are still those who are led astray by greed and a level of selective deafness that separates them from God.
Let us pray that we might open our hearts and our minds, and use all our strength and our resources to take the light of Christ into the dark places of the world. Let us pray that we might come to understand that our places of worship are nothing but places of rest and refreshment, places where we are recharged in order that we might go out as active and self-sacrificial apostles of Christ.