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Thirty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, he 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 it is about to take place?” But he said, “Take care not to be deceived, because many will come using my name and saying, ‘I am the one’ and ‘The time is near at hand.’ Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be terrified, for this is something that must happen first, but the end will not come at once.” Then he said to them, “Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines in various places; there will be terrifying events and great signs from Heaven. But before all this happens, you will be seized and persecuted; you will be handed over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and brought before kings and governors for the sake of my name and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Make up your minds not to prepare your defense, 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 universally on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your perseverance will win you your lives.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, increase my faith and may your Kingdom come in my heart and in the world.
- The Temple: It is an impressive sight to stand before the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and witness the weeping of Jews who long for the return of their Temple. It was once the centrality of their faith. But the Wailing Wall is merely the extant retaining wall, built about two thousand years ago to sustain the Temple’s large esplanade. Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple that would occur some forty years after his crucifixion. It would be the end of the practice of sacrificial worship for Jews who joined in the establishment of the Christian sacrifice of worship. With such a radical change in their future, Jesus warned them to not put their trust in those who proclaimed to be the Messiah. He said that their stance should be one of perseverance.
- Trials of Faith: Jesus also prophesied the trials that his disciples would undergo for the sake of their faith. Their profession would not be mere lip service, but a living and active testimony that required facing the ultimate test. They would be given what was most necessary for their defense. Would it be a defense that saved their physical lives? No, because we know that most of them died a martyr’s death. But “not a hair of their head” would be lost. Echoing 1 Samuel 14:45, Matthew 10:30, and Luke 12:7, this expression signifies that God’s special providence would be with them. They would be given the wisdom and words needed, not to save their lives, but to profess their faith and propel them into eternal life.
- Perseverance: Jesus spoke once again of the importance of perseverance in these lines of the Gospel. This time he told his disciples that perseverance would save their lives. Through the centuries, Christians have prayed for final perseverance, the greatest gift one could ask for. The martyrs throughout the centuries have testified to the importance of this gift. Faced with the extinction of their earthly existence, they held onto hope and the conviction that their faith would win them eternal life, and it did.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, grant me the gift of final perseverance. Increase my faith that I may be a witness to you in every circumstance, not fearing losing my life, esteem, or the human respect of others, as long as I can live more fully in your Kingdom.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on which situations in my life call for courage and perseverance in giving witness to my faith.
For Further Reflection: Bishop Barron on Pope Benedict as a Witness of God, and Nine Days to Christ the King Novena, Day 3.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”
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