Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Luke 21.5-19

"Your endurance will win you your lives"

In the time of Jesus the Temple in Jerusalem was a still-new and magnificent structure; immense, beautiful, richly adorned, it was a symbol, not only of the nation's faith, but also of worldly power and security. It was unthinkable that it would not stand forever. It was the heart and pride of all Jewish life; the very symbol of God’s presence among them. Yet Jesus tells his hearers, “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, by the time Luke wrote his account of the Gospel, the Temple had been flattened, as foretold by Jesus. Its beauty was short-lived and its destruction must have seemed like the end of the world for the people of the day; terrifying, confusing, threatening.

In our own day, too, we see the sort of signs of which Jesus spoke: nation fights against nation, there are earthquakes, plagues and famines, terrorism, persecutions and many fearful sights. It appears almost like the end, if not of the world, then at least of the present world order, and it can be quite terrifying. But Jesus urges us not to be frightened by the troubled times in which we live, nor to take notice of the prophets of doom who gloat on them. Trials of one kind or another will always be part and parcel of Christian living, and he promises us gifts of eloquence and wisdom to deal with them.

"Your endurance will win you your lives", says Jesus. This is not some empty utopian promise. It is a positive invitation to keep trusting in God, even in dark times, and to live through each day given to us as witnesses to his truth, justice and love. What is more, our own endurance is a sharing in the perseverance, steadfastness and endurance of Christ himself. This is a message of hope amid all the chaos and upsets life can throw at us. Christ is here among us, dwelling within us, empowering us with his eloquence and wisdom, his courage and strength. That is, indeed, Good News.