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, 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 defence 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.’
Today’s passage from Luke’s gospel contains so many doom-laden words that we often miss the moment of hope … the final eight words that should empower and encourage us as we struggle with the realities of daily life in this world: By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Too often our church buildings become the focus of all our efforts. We work hard to beautify and preserve them, forgetting that they are but a symbol in our journey of faith.
Too often our wits are clouded and we become bewitched by some new way of looking at the world. A charismatic preacher of some alternative doctrine woos us from the true path, the true journey of faith.
Too often we look at the world around us and see only the doom and gloom that are peddled by ambitious, self-serving politicians and international conglomerates. We become caught up in their flawed attempts to dominate those who are less able to defend themselves. In our despair we are tempted to give up on both God and the true journey of faith.
Too often, as our minds are befuddled with concerns over church buildings, false teaching and naked international ambition (no matter what the cost), we find ourselves coming into conflict with those family members, friends and neighbours who should be those closest to us. We forget the two greatest commandments: love of God and neighbour; we become confused and lost, forgetting the call to journey in faith.
The Christian life is not an easy one. The Christian life demands dedication and determination. The Christian life, the only life that will ultimately bring us into the eternal presence of God, is challenging, particularly in the face of the self-destructive impulses of many human beings. But, despite all the horrors and pitfalls of this world, Jesus’ words remain true: By your endurance you will gain your souls. Let us pray that we might never lose sight of those words as we strive to endure to the end.