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VISIBLE THINGS WILL NOT LAST

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

Lk. 21:5-19

For 25 years the twin towers of the World Trade Centre formed part of the skyline of New York City. On 11 September 2003 they disappeared. Both structures were 110 stories high, the workplaces for more than 50,000 people. Then one morning they were attacked and they collapsed.

What happened was simply unbelievable. As the events that morning unfolded I thought I was watching a science fiction film on television. But it was no film. It was an unspeakable tragedy. We grieve for the lives that were cruelly snatched away. We mourn for the businesses and the jobs that were lost. We deplore all the human suffering that was caused by a few misguided zealots. All this tells us is that visible things will not last.

Jesus spoke of this in today’s Gospel. The disciples were waxing eloquent about the beauty of the temple. In reply Jesus said, “All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left upon another; everything will be destroyed.” The truth that Jesus spoke applies to all things visible. They may last for many centuries, like the Pyramids, but eventually they will be gone. That reality raises a fundamental question. Is there anything in this Universe that abides for ever? Surely there must be something that will be permanent? If not, we live in a pointless Universe.

I have always had a fascination with mountains. Their huge bulk of natural materials reminds me of the immensity, the solidity and the permanence of God. Every time I visit the Sea of Galilee I love to feast my eyes on the tops of the mountain range that surrounds it. They have not changed much in 2000 years and how happy I am to know that Jesus’ eyes, too, gazed on those same mountain tops. But the day will come when they no longer exist.

On the slopes of those mountains are fields of wild flowers, many of them small and fragile. And each has life. A mountain stands static for centuries, but a flower grows, dies, and then is reborn from seeds it produces. This is the real marvel of the Universe – life, which only God can create. A higher form of life is an animal. Take a pet like a dog. If it is given love by its owner it will repay back that love many times. It will be loyal and obedient, and has been known to save its owner’s life when in danger. But how much more precious and wonderful is a child than all the creatures of the natural world. For a child is immortal, created in the image of God with a soul that will live forever.

Our Christian faith rejects the thought that we live in a pointless Universe. God created it for His glory and our enjoyment. Our Christian faith concedes that nothing we can see is going to last, but the clear implication is that unseen things do last. The temple was destroyed, but the unseen God Whose presence it symbolises, will stand forever. These physical bodies of ours will perish and disappear but the real you and me, whom no one but God has ever seen, will abide forever. This is what our Christian faith believes.

Lord Jesus, we thank God our Father for the way He has planned our future, and we pray that one day we will be able to share that time with Him in Heaven.

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