Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:5-19

Throughout the story of our salvation the people of God have searched for and longed to be in the presence of God. They have sensed the sacred and marked it in physical ways by the erecting of stones and the building of altars. When Solomon builds the Temple it’s the fruit of the longing and desire of the whole people of God. God promises to be in the Temple and never to leave. This fills the people with hope and firmly places the Temple in their theological imaginations.

When Jesus speaks of the destruction of the second Temple, he too is speaking of a physical place that has always been a guarantee of God’s glory and presence. Luke’s hearers have already experienced the destruction of the Temple (70 AD) and Luke, writing in approximately 80 AD, has Jesus predict this. This sets Jesus firmly in the prophetic tradition.

Luke is writing for a community that is already experiencing persecution and the inevitable collapse of their certainties. Jesus promises them a type of strength and fortitude that only he can give:

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.

Jesus doesn’t promise to rebuild the Temple because now, instead of bricks and mortar, it is his flesh and blood that will be the guarantee of God’s presence. All the longing and devotion that once filled their hearts as they made pilgrimage to the Temple is now at God’s service in the welcoming of the kingdom and the building of community.

Where is God calling you to welcome the kingdom and to build community?