Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday & Company Inc.
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now—the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name—and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’
Did you know?
Points of interest and Catholic lore
- The temple in Jerusalem was totally destroyed by the Romans in ad 70. Luke‘s Gospel was written after this event, so his readers would have known of its annihilation.
- Early Christian communities faced persecution both by the Jews, when they were expelled from the synagogues for their faith in Jesus as Messiah, and by the secular authorities for their refusal to worship the emperor as a god. Luke is clearly aware of the tribulations facing his community and seeks to allay their fears in this text.
Exploring the Word
This text must be read from the viewpoint of Luke’s community, who knew of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the so-called Jewish Wars that lead to this act. Christians were being persecuted by both Rome and the Jewish people. It must have seemed that the end was near. But Luke places these words on the lips of Jesus, words designed to comfort his community and give them hope. Jesus warns his followers not to place their trust in those who purport to know God’s plan for the end of time. Rather they should know that God is with them no matter what happens. In the meantime, the Church must journey on, just as Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem and to his ultimate fate. But God vindicated Jesus through the resurrection, and Christian believers will also be vindicated by God with the gift of eternal life. Their endurance will win their lives.
- If you knew that tomorrow would be your last day, what would you do?
- In the face of adversity, what is the source of your strength?
Opportunities for group discussion and personal prayer
- Have you had to bear any ridicule or derision because of your decision to seek baptism?
- Describe a time of chaos or turmoil in your life. What sustained you or gave you strength through this difficult time? Share your reflections with others.
- Have you had to face a great challenge that you feared you may not be able to endure?
- This week, accept those things that you cannot change and change for the better those things that you can.
- Use today’s communion antiphon this week:
To be near God is my happiness,
to place my hope in God the Lord.
Sharing the tradition
A closer look at the Scripture of the day, to see how it makes more explicit God’s word to us through the teachings of Jesus Christ
There have been numerous sects that attempt to predict the end of the world and prepare for it. Such literalism really misses the point. The Church believes that the ‘last day’ will come and in fact longs for the triumph of God and the victory over the forces of evil, including death. The ‘Day of the Lord’, which was inaugurated at the resurrection of Jesus, will be completed with his final coming in glory. Each Eucharist that we celebrate looks back to the death and resurrection, making it present again for us, and also looks forward to the coming of God’s kingdom. Christians are people who wait in joyful hope, but while we wait, we live in the reality of the present and try to build God’s kingdom on earth.
- Share stories of some of the strange sects that seek to predict the end. Why do you think people are attracted to these? Are they providing a simple answer with no personal responsibility?
- Explore the sections of the Catechism that deal with the Church’s understanding of end times and judgment (CCC, §§668–682, 1038–1050).
- Emphasise the importance of building the kingdom of God on earth in the present age.
- How are we called to do this in practical ways each day?
Symbols and images
To describe the end of time, this gospel uses a kind of language commonly used in this period and known as ‘apocalyptic’ language. The language is symbolic and should not be read literally. Ultimately, this text is designed to give faith and hope to those who were suffering persecution. God will protect and sustain them.
Living the Word
Practical ideas for group leaders to employ in connecting Scripture and daily life, with suggestions for music and environment
- Examine the balance within your own community in the way it gives emphasis to the past through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the present need to live in the world so that we build the kingdom and the future expectation of Christ’s second coming.
- You could use images from magazines and newspapers of natural disasters and conflict overlaid with a cross as a focus for prayer. Pray for comfort and hope for all those who suffer in our world. A suitable song could be ‘Restless is the heart’ (GA 239). Conclude with the prayer of exorcism in the RCIA at §94E, which looks forward to the coming of Jesus.