Sunday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year C:
Today it looks as though the readings could not get any worse. It sounds bad. The first reading from Malachi talks about ovens, the proud and evildoers being burning up in fire. St. Paul in the second reading rebukes the people around for being disorderly and get into other people’s business. Then in the Gospel, Jesus talks about the destruction of the temple, His followers being put into jail, put to death and essentially the end of the world. What are we to make of all of this? Well we are in November where the Church asks us to focus on the four last things. This is the last Sunday before the feast of Christ the King. So it does make since that we would be brought to the end, and focus on the battle for our soul and our own end. But this shouldn’t be a fearful reflection, for if we are with Christ, He conquered sin and death.
It is very interesting what Jesus predicts in the Gospel today. He predicts the destruction of the glorious second and final temple in Jerusalem. The first temple was destroyed when the Jews were taken into Babylonian captivity. The second temple was built when they returned and it was renovated by Herod the great. If you remember, the temple was the center of the Jewish worship, it was the place where the sacrifices and atonement took place. It was necessary for being in right relation with God and to be in the covenant. However, Jesus fulfills the old covenant and establishes the new covenant. He does this at the Last supper. He then offers the one, acceptable, and true, sacrifice on the cross, which is Himself. He then gives us access to this one true sacrifice in the new temple the Church. In every Mass we enter into the sacrifice of the cross in an unbloody manner.
So we see that the old temple was no longer needed. It was to pass away. And Jesus tells us how in the Gospel. And 40 years after his passion, death, and resurrection, it happened. In 70 AD, The Romans retook Jerusalem from the Jewish revolutionaries who had captured the city in 66 AD. The Romans completely leveled Jerusalem and the temple. As Jesus said, not a single stone was standing upon stone. The wailing wall is only part of the outer foundation, its wasn’t part of the temple itself. And we see that even to today, the temple has never been rebuilt.
It is also interesting that there were no Christians left in the city when the Romans attacked. It’s because they read this Gospel and heeded Jesus’ words. They knew what was happening and they got out of there. This should also lead us to heed Jesus’ words throughout the scriptures. That His words are true.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us to be ready for persecution and to persevere. If you want persecution today, all you have to do is to boldly live the Catholic Faith out in the world. In the workplace, at school, with your neighbors, friends, even around your family. It can be difficult, and unpopular to stand up for the Church and the moral truths that God has given us. But this is precisely the testimony we are called to give, to be faithful, unwavering in the face of suffering and even death, as we see with the martyrs, as we see today with the Catholics being killed in the middle east.
In the Gospel, Jesus says that “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” He speaks of eternal life. Today let us focus on our end, be ready for the destruction of our own temple. Then we will be standing with Jesus so that when our temple is rebuilt, it will be rebuilt in heaven.