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The Beauty of Christ
Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, open my heart to see what good and beautiful things in my life could distract me from seeking the things that really last.
- Costly Stones: In Jesus’s time, people were drawn to marvel at humanity’s achievements. Today we still marvel at the beauty of our monuments; we take pride in our cities and their lights; we boast perhaps even more of our technology, our transportation, communications, and excellent entertainment. While all these things are good and can be used for good, people can let themselves become puffed up with pride and lose sight of who inspires man’s awesome achievements. After all, the temple is not about the precious stones that adorn it, but the spiritual prayers and sacrifices offered there. Let’s keep our focus not on the shiny stones that adorn our temples, but on keeping our interior castle swept clean and suitable for a visit from the King of Kings.
- All Thrown Down: Jesus responded to the temple’s destruction with a blunt reminder: All the things of the world are passing. The early church looked back on these words with amazement after the fall of Jerusalem in the first century. But even 2,000 years later, some of those stones stand one upon the other. Jesus wants us to remember that everything that was once externally beautiful and grand won’t last forever, but these things can lead us to what lasts forever. When we pray, let’s strive to deeply appreciate that we worship Jesus Christ, who is infinitely more beautiful than any precious stones.
- Do Not Be Deceived: As soon as Jesus began to speak about how things would end, his listeners ran into the temptation that we always face: trying to determine God’s timetable. His reminder echoes true for us too: “You know not the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13). Therefore, we live well when we consider that every action, in every minute of this day, draws us one step closer to Christ—or one step further away.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, while I live in the midst of a material world with many beautiful things, help me use them to draw me closer to you. Let there be nothing that distracts me from what is truly beautiful—you alone!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will dedicate some of my time in prayer to close my eyes and quietly imagine your face. I will turn away from everything else and give this time only to you.
For Further Reflection: Watch “Lead with Beauty” by Bishop Barron.
Father Adam Zettel, LC, works as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. He has worked extensively with youth and offers pastoral care to families.