Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
As we approach the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the scripture readings begin to take on an apocalyptic tone. The word apocalypse, is a Greek word that means unveiling or revealing. Thus, apocalyptic writing is that which reveals something that has not been previously known, prophetic in a sense. It is often associated with symbolic, cosmic imagery that says something about the future.
As Jesus was teaching in the temple area someone commented on the beautiful stones and votive offers that made up the temple; how beautiful this structure was. The Jews were very proud of the temple that had been built in 516 B.C. and had undergone extensive renovation by King Herod which began approximately in the year 20 B.C. and was not completed until about 10 A.D.
Jesus shocks his listeners by telling them that the day will come when every stone of the temple will be thrown down, in other words, the temple will be destroyed. He warns of the coming trials and persecutions for those who follow Jesus. But he also tells them that “your perseverance will secure your lives.”
Many today interpret these passages of Jesus as pointing to a future event, the end of the world. But many scholars believe that what Jesus was predicting has already occurred with the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 A.D., less than one generation after Jesus spoke these words. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Jesus’ words don’t also point to something in the future.
But the point of his message is to give us hope in the Lord’s promise; to place our trust in him to see us through difficulties and to be a people who has a holy “fear” of his name, a reverence, an awe. The reading from the Prophet Malachi also foretells a difficult end, but ends on a hopeful note when it says, “But for you who fear the Lord’s name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,