We often hear of people who believe they know when the world is about to end. They look at what’s happening in the world and say, “the end is near.” People point to the Bible and find images and passages that reinforce their point.
This Sunday’s gospel from Mark, Jesus was trying to tell the disciples of things to come. They have been in Jerusalem and seen the beautiful temple built by Herod. As you would imagine, most of these disciples were not familiar with large cities and the grandeur of massive buildings. The Temple was twice the size of the Roman Forum, with huge white stones weighing tons. When viewed from a distance (the Mt. of Olives) the disciples who were sitting with Jesus were impressed. I imagine their reaction must have been much like any of us having seen the inside of our Cathedral, St. John the Divine or perhaps if fortunate enough to see the inside of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for the first time. They were in awe of the structure; probably thinking that the Temple would last forever.
As the disciples commented on the Temple in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus replied:
“Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Jesus was again speaking to his disciples, and to us, with an analogy. He wasn’t talking about the end of the world, but rather how to live when “all our worlds” collapse. Certainly, a feeling we have had in recent times with the negative campaign rhetoric, shootings in schools and houses of worship, bomb threats, divisiveness, raciest remarks, the list goes on.
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monastic, teaches in his book, Falling Upward,
“it is in crisis that we learn life’s greatest lessons. It is from disappointment and struggle that we learn what is truly important. It is in meeting failure and loss that we find the richest contents for our lives. It is at difficult times that we realize that our soul within is greater than any of our earthly bodies.”
We do want answers. We do want to know what’s going to happen next. Like the disciples, we want to know every detail about when and how our future will take place. The disciples hoped for a way to save themselves as they interpreted the signs of the time and so do we.
How do we live in the time between birth and death? How do we live in a time when chaos surrounds us as it does today? How do we live in a world that pulls us apart, rather than pulling us together?
False prophets will deceive us. They make us fearful of what lies ahead. They let us allow other people to define and limit us.
But, God says, “Do not fear, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Think about what you really value in life.
Ask yourself – “if I only had one more day to live what would I do?” Life goes on. Good and bad happens.
The circle of life continues. In the meantime. We need not live in uncertainty, because: no matter what happens, no matter when it happens, we are loved beyond measure.
We are the creation of a forgiving God. On our life’s journey, in joyous and difficult times, we are God’s own. We came from God and to God we shall return.
We need to fill our lives with love, forgiveness, compassion and Godliness.
Jesus tells us that the end is just the beginning of what God has planned. Behold I shall make all things new (Rev. 21:5)
So as the world seems to be colliding into chaos all around us, with evil, greed and meanness rampant at home and abroad, let our cooler heads prevail. Let us try to act in love and forgiveness while standing up for what is good and right and let us always remember we are in the palm of God’s hand.