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ONLY THE KINGDOM OF GOD WILL ENDURE UNTIL THE END

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Apoc. 14:14-19 & Lk. 21:5-11

We have a vision of the coming of Jesus at the end of time in the First Reading today. He wears a gold crown to symbolise that He has conquered sin and He carries a sickle indicating that He will harvest the grain - separating the wheat from the chaff. He is helped by an angel who also wields a sickle and gathers the grapes to be thrown into the wine press of God's harvest.

There is so much evil and injustice in our world. God wants good people to work to overcome evil and secure justice for the oppressed. People might tell us we are fighting a lost cause, and peace and justice will not come about by our efforts alone. But time is on God's side. He is patient and eventually His Son will bring to perfection "a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace."

For the Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem was the centre of religious and cultural life. It contained the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. It is not surprising that the Apostles waxed eloquently about the beauty of this magnificent building. But Jesus warns them that the day will arrive when it will be destroyed (as indeed it was, by the Romans in AD 70). Yet the end of the Temple will not be the end of religion. Jesus Himself will remain with us, as He does to this day, in the Eucharist. Likewise, no matter what else passes away - our church, our homes, our bodies - Christ remains. That belief should fill us with confidence.

Jesus does not directly answer the question about when the Temple will be destroyed. Rather, He tries to get His listeners to focus on what is really important: their faith. Our Lord warns them not to listen to the wrong people. Throughout the course of a normal day, to whom do we listen? Our friends, our colleagues, the news media´s "instant experts" and gurus? Jesus cautions us that the people to whom we listen might affect the quality of our lives - and the quality of our eternity. Do we judge carefully the voices to which we listen?

We witness tsunamis, floods, terrorist attacks, wars, abortion, euthanasia - is the world a nicer place today than in Jesus´ time? Our Lord was no stranger to bad news. He knew about the tower in Siloam that killed 18 people (Luke 13:4) - and He knew what awaited Him on Good Friday. Yet He always remained hopeful and encouraged the best in people. As His followers we, too, must be witnesses to hope. We need to brighten the lives of those around us. More importantly we need to remind others that God will win in the end. "Good, not evil, has the last word" Saint Pope John Paul II told a general audience in 2001. "God triumphs over the hostile powers, even when they seem great and invincible.”

Lord Jesus, we know that You will win in the end. If only our hearts would believe that, too! Let our lives at every moment show that kind of optimism.

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