The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
November 13, 2022 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 21:5-19
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
We are all accustomed to the inflated promises of politicians seeking our votes. Historians note that in 1928 Herbert Hoover promised to deliver a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. There have been countless variants of this kind of talk, including what’s being “promised” in current election claims.
Religious leaders have also offered claims of better times ahead to lure followers to their cause. In our day some preachers advocate what’s called “the prosperity gospel.” In brief, if you join their brand of Christianity, you will be rewarded by amazing success, financial and other wise. Was this based on solid evidence that this was the approach advocated by Jesus? Today’s gospel suggests it isn’t.
Clearly, Jesus promised eternal life, but that was only to happen after we die. What about now? In today’s gospel we encounter Jesus standing near the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. Like buildings designed to stand the assaults of nature, and, if necessary, that of a military siege, it was carefully constructed with substantial stones, expertly aligned for lasting protection. Jesus looked at this remarkable edifice and said that this will not last. He added that there will be wars and conflicts and natural disasters. In other words, difficulties ahead, even for his followers. But through it all, Jesus wanted us to know that he would be with us and support us.
Today, we can draw comparisons with how our times were like those experienced by Jesus. The news is filled with descriptions of conflicts, local, national and global. No one would describe our times as utopic or ideal. Nations are split apart by conflicting positions, both external and internal. I was recently asked by a former student if I knew of any time in history when peace and justice for all was realized. I don’t. Although like many, I judge that today we are immersed in very difficult situations. So much seems to divide us. Even among family members.
As I thought more about this, I wondered if God intended to create a world like we have. A world where there is no stress and strain, or suffering. Jesus himself felt all that. Bad things seem to happen to good people. Is there a flaw in the original design? Jesus says there isn’t. Rather, we are to be accepting of this situation. We are to seek to be understanding, kind and helpful to others. But not to despair. God is with us through it all. In Jesus, we might even say that God is especially present when we are most tried and challenged.
©David M. Thomas, PhD