Being in the month of November, we have been remembering and praying in a special way for those who have died before us. At the same time this has often led us to make a serious reflection on the reality of our own death - where we are all heading.
Meanwhile, in the liturgy we are nearing the end of the liturgical year. In a couple of weeks’ time this year comes to an end, and we begin a new one with the Season of Advent, preparing ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
As we approach the end of the year - both liturgically and the calendar-year - Luke, who has been accompanying us on our Gospel journey during this year, approaches the end of the journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. As a community we have been walking with Jesus during our Sunday liturgies on this journey. We have seen Jesus being followed by a huge number of people - some to become his disciples, or followers, others just out of curiosity or to experience, perhaps, some miracle of the Master. This is a journey which, at its destination, will present to the readers the end of Jesus’ own life-journey here on Earth. Jesus is going to Jerusalem to embrace the cross and experience the Resurrection.
In today’s gospel we see Jesus arriving close to the Temple in Jerusalem. It was a glorious and marvelous building, totally renovated and embellished by king Herod the Great some 20 years before Christ, with long, arched porticos, golden gates, adorned with beautiful rare gems, and always busy with a huge number of people from all walks of life. Now Jesus is no longer being accompanied by a large number of people. Many have left to continue with their everyday lives. Some had found his teaching too hard, challenging, or unacceptable. Being left with those few who really wanted to follow him, Jesus now teaches them about the end times. All earthly things come to an end, no matter how big and beautiful they are. He was observing many people who were in awe of the beauty and grandeur of the temple. All this, he said, will one day come to an end. Hard to believe for many, but this prophecy came true only a few decades later, when the temple was completely destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 AD.
From that observation the topic of conversation moved on to the end of the world. There had been people who tried to “predict” the end of the world. Jesus warned that there will even be many more who will try to do the same. Even in our own times, in fact, we know that there are people who still try to do this. Some sects have been predicting the end of times over and over again. And we all remember how terrified many people were as the year 2000 approached! Jesus tells us not to worry about all this. There will be wars and natural disasters, but that will not be the end. It’s not up to us to know when the end will come. What really matters for us is to live as best we can the life which we have here.
This will not be always easy. As happened to Jesus, there will be times when we will have to suffer in order to do the right thing. Today like in Jesus’ time, his message is not welcome by everyone. Here Jesus encourages us by letting us know that, in all this, we will be well taken care of by God. He is Lord of time, of history, of our lives. What really matters for us is that we make the most of our time here on earth, persevering in times of trial, knowing that we are being carried in safe hands.