Gospel Luke 21:5-19

When will this happen?’

For all its messages of love and acceptance, the Gospel also contains some fairly difficult sayings, most of which are found on the lips of Jesus Himself. Today’s reading is no different.

Jesus’ words concerning the end times is stern, self-assured, and to the point: ‘everything will be destroyed.’ His disciples and the others listening urge a response – they, like us, want to know ‘when’ – when will these things happen? Those following recent electoral happenings in the U.S. might be tempted to think that these are the times that Jesus is speaking about…

Rather than providing contingency plans for those who suffer the final persecution, and witness the Second Coming, Jesus instead admonishes his listeners to remain faithful at all times.

We are not asked to stock up on canned goods and head for the hills, but are asked to pray, and to remain faithful to our immediate task, despite the fact that the frailties of human sinfulness (our own and those of our loved ones) will see us let down from time to time.

Jesus is careful not to denigrate our earthly experience, but he does not mince words reminding us where our home is – or what earthly beauty and joy of this world points to.

Warnings of the end times, dire and mysterious as they are, are always framed within a logic of being (an onto-logic) which is rooted God’s unfathomable generosity and love. We then, must seek to open ourselves to that love, and to participate in it. As such we can then join in with those first Christian communities in the Palestinian area who used to pray Maranà, thà! which means literally, “Our Lord, come!” – this was a joyous and hope-filled prayer that we need to continue to pray today.

Point to Ponder

“Once you have made the world an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes and crusades matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours.”

– CS Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters”, Letter VII