COMMENTARY

Prayer before praying Scripture

 

Father, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Word.  May it be a lamp to our feet, a light to our paths, joy to our hearts and strength to our lives.

 

Take time to read this final Gospel of the year and discover the theme.

 

You probably have decided that this is all about the end of the world.  I wonder where Luke got his information.  If you read Mark 13, you will realise that Luke used Mark’s Gospel as his primary resource for this part of his story.

 

If you really want to cause confusion, start talking about the “End of the World”.  At the present time, our understanding is that Creation began some 14,3 billion years ago.  As we look out into the sky at night, it is hard to believe that there are billions of galaxies and more billions of stars.  Our beautiful Earth is unique in that, as far as we know, it is the only planet where life developed.  If all this has been around for so long, I do not think that each of us has to be concerned about creation ending.  We should be concerned about the mass extinction that we are living through at this very moment.  Twenty-five thousand species vanish from our Earth every year.  This is certainly not what Jesus was talking about.

 

Today’s text opens with, “5When some were talking about the temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings,”

 

We have all heard of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  The surprise is that the templewas not included among the seven.  It far exceeded the others in beauty and grandeur. Travelers to Palestine in the first century told about three unique experiences; the sea in which it was impossible to sink: The Dead Sea; the Sabbath Day of rest (this was observed nowhere else) and The Temple.   Herod the Great started building the Temple in 19BC and it was eventually completed in 64 AD.  Sadly, it was destroyed in 70 AD during the First Jewish Revolt.  Surely, for the Jewish people, the destruction of the house of God must have been the end of the world.

 

“6All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.”   and

“Many will come using my name, nation will fight against nation, earthquakes and plagues and famines.” 

These are not what God wants for the world.  They illustrate just how badly the people of that time messed up God’s plan and sadly we continue to make the same mistakes.

 

The key to understanding this reading, I think, lies in verse 7: 

 

7And they put to him this question: “Master” they said, “when will this happen, then, and what signs will there bethat this is about to take place?”

 

This question is answered in verse 22.

 

“for these days are the time of punishment when all the scriptures will be fulfilled.

This leads us to another similar text. 

 

Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about him in the Law of Moses and in the prophets and psalmsmust be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.  And he said to them, “thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nationsbeginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  (24: 44 – 48)

 

Surely Jesus is telling us that we should be striving to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth. He emphasizes that the source that we should be working from is the Scriptures.  The end of the world is not its destruction but thatwe all will live our lives in conformity with the teachings of Jesus.

 

When this moment comes then Jesus’ own mission statement will become a reality for all peoples.

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed, go free,

and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”    (4: 18 – 19)

 

Isn’t this, more likely to be the end, our God intends for this world?