33rd Sunday Gospel

Next Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King, which brings us to the end of this liturgical year.  It is fitting, then, that the Gospel which precedes the Feast of Christ the King speak of 'future things'.  Our Sunday Gospel cites only a portion of Jesus predictions about the future, and they are words of sadness and of immense joy.

First, there is the wonder of pious visiters turned sour by the prediction that the Temple, so glorious a building in the eyes of such poor people as these, will be destroyed - totally.  This prediction leads to the questions, "When?  "What will be a sign (so that I may flee)?"  Jesus' response, the part we have in our Gospel, speaks about two characteristics that will take place before Jerusalem is destroyed.  First, Jesus offers a summary of wars and their like.  Second, Jesus, now speaking to "you" (his disciples), predicts a period of conflict and persecution for his followers.  The best commentary on this future state of the Christian believers are the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline letters written many years before the Lucan Gospel, letters which indicate the trials and sufferings of believers throughout the Mediterranean Basin.  Implied in all this is the tendency toward disciples' perplexity: is Jesus the Messiah, favored of God, and are we his blessed disciples?  But the Gospel we read ends with the very positive words of Jesus to those who have remained faithful to him in times challenging their faithfulness.  Jesus assures his disciples that not a hair on their heads will be lost; God will one day bring them home, and they can be sure that, if they persevere, they will be saved.  The gloom of persecution times blocks the sunlight of God's love, but all the more must disciples know what their assured future will be, if only they persevere.  It may seem that He will only wait for them at the end, that before this He will be absent.  Jesus knows that God will always be with the faithfull; here he wants to assure them of the inevitable outcome of their love for God and God's love for them.  You will secure your lives, the lives that never end!

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