Thirty Third Sunday Ordinary time, Year C

Lk 21: 5 – 19

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 text for Year C. Try to discover what the theme is.

You have probably decided that this is all about the end of the world. I wonder where Luke got his information. If you try reading Mark 13 you will soon realise that Luke probably 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 space on a starry 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.

This is odd here, a fragment? 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 eighth wonder is that the temple was not included among the seven. 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 the building of 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.

Jesus seems to be predicting this destruction. Luke is able to put these words in Jesus because he knows that the temple had been destroyed. He is “fore-telling after the event”, and that is very easy to do. What does this contribute to anything?

This is also true of; many will come using my name, nation will fight against nation, earthquakes and plagues and famines. Simon and Bar-Jesus are mentioned as false prophets in Acts. (Acts8: 9; 13: 6) There was civil war in the Roman Empire; famine and earthquakes take place n every era.

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 be that this is about to take place?”

This question is answered in verse twenty two.

“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 psalms must 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 nations beginning 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 that we 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)

This is the end intended for of the world.
Isn’t this more likely to be the end, our God intends for this world?

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