COURAGE, LIFT UP YOUR HEAD! – 17th November 2019, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Luke 21:5-19

– Fr. Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau

Luke wrote his Gospel around the year 85 AD. In the fifty years that passed since the death and resurrection of Jesus, there were wars, political revolutions, catastrophes and the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. Christians became victims of injustices and persecutions.

The misfortunes (especially the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem) are signs of the end of the world that is coming and that the Lord is returning on the clouds of heaven.

The teaching takes place when some people approach Jesus who is in the temple and invite him to admire its beauty. The rabbis used to say, whoever has not seen the temple of Jerusalem has not contemplated the most beautiful among the marvels of the world. The answer of Jesus is amazing: “There shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire. Amazed, they ask him: When will this be and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” Jesus cannot specify the date: He does not know it, as he does not know the day and hour of the world’s end (Mt 24:36). He is not a magician, a soothsayer, so he does not answer.

Why does Luke introduce this episode? There were false prophets in his communities who have always presented a serious danger to the Christian communities. Jesus warns his disciples against those who foretell that the end of the world is near. He strongly recommends: “Do not follow them.”

After having invited them to consider the time of waiting for his return as a gestation that prepares for the delivery, Jesus announces the difficulties that his disciples will have to confront: prison, slanders, betrayal by the family members and best friends. There were those who doubted, why endure so much suffering and make many sacrifices? It’s all to no avail: the wicked will always continue to prosper, to commit violence, to get the better of the righteous. Jesus says that this will not happen. God guides people’s lives and directs the plans of the wicked to the good of his children and the establishment of the kingdom. In this world, the value of their sacrifice will not be recognized. They will be forgotten, perhaps cursed, but God—and it is his judgment that matters—will give them the reward in the resurrection of the righteous.

Translated by Fr. John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF