Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. Luke 21:5-19
The Gospel reading today is pointing us toward the end of time and the culmination of salvation history. It is good for the preacher to point out that the themes about the second coming, in these final Sundays of the liturgical year, will blend smoothly with the first part of Advent, when the theme is likewise the second coming of the Lord.
The reading today conveys conflict on many levels – within oneself, in families and communities, between Church and state, between nations, and in the heavens. Although God is almighty, He allows good and evil to conflict with each other, and allows His people to choose sides. Once we choose, we have to fight for what we have chosen, and even when we are on God’s side, it will not be easy. There is always a price to pay for doing what is right, because evil is always fighting against the good.
This is the overall context in which the Church’s defense of human life in our day needs to be understood, and in which our own acknowledgement of the sanctity of life needs to be understood. It is never enough just to be content with acknowledging to others the beauty of life and presenting that beauty. Some, in doing this, consider themselves exempt from the full-scale war that has been launched against the sanctity of life in our day.
John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (The Gospel of Life) makes it clear that nobody is exempt from this war. Some pay a higher price than others for their conscientious objection to the forces of death – for example, medical professionals who refuse to take part in actions that take or endanger the very lives they are committed to serve. Our suffering may, on the other hand, simply be the ridicule or misunderstanding of family, friends, or fellow Christians when we take a strong stand against abortion or euthanasia.
We have to be ready to fight, both as individuals and as a Church community. We have to be fearless in the face of laws and public policies which contradict the Gospel of Life and challenge them. In the end, “not a hair on your head will be destroyed.”
My One Regret: “My abortion is definitely the one thing I regret. There will always be remorse and sadness. The feeling of the loss of a child will always be there. I wish I could have known then what abortion was all about and its devastating effects on the woman. So many women feel that if they had more support and truth during their crisis pregnancy many lives would have been saved.” – from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign post-abortion testimonies here: www.AbortionTestimonies.Com.
This Lectionary Life App installment first appeared in November, 2013. It was authored by Rev. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life’s National Director and Pastoral Associate of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign co-sponsored by Anglicans for Life and Priests for Life.