The WORD in Other Words by Fr Xene Sanchez SVD (Congo, Africa) for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Thes 3:7-12
I remember these words: “Israel is the centre of the world, because there lies Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the centre of Israel, because there stood the Temple. The Temple was the centre of the Jerusalem, because there the “Holy of Holies” was to be found.” The people of Israel near and far went to the Temple to pray. It was built three times. The first, by Solomon (1000 B.C.) destroyed by the Babylonians; the second, after the return from exile (537 B.C.) destroyed by Antiochus; the third, by Herod the Great (19 B.C.). Its construction cost a fortune. According to the Bible it took him 40 years to complete it. (Actually it was finished 64 A.D). It was made of white limestone, ornamented with gold plating and golden pinnacles. They said: “The one, who has not seen the temple of Jerusalem, has failed to see the most wonderful thing in the world.”
Jesus‘ listeners were therefore shocked when he said: “All that you see here — the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” The prophecy of Jesus aroused the anger of the Jews. At his trial before the tribunal of Pilate, his words about the Temple were used as part of the made up accusations levelled against him. None believed his words. But in 70 A.D. the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem razing the Temple to the ground. What remained is now called the “Wailing Wall.”
The destruction of the Temple shows that the words of Jesus would never pass away. It also predicts that everything in this world will ultimately pass away. What Jesus foretold happened and will continue to happen. He announced his death and resurrection and it happened. Therefore, the promise of his second coming is also a certainty. On the Last Day, he will judge the living and the dead. In the first reading we heard the words of Malachi (538 B.C.). He talked about fire, blazing like an oven to punish evildoers and another fire, called Sun of Justice, whose rays heal the just ones.
Jesus did not answer WHEN it would happen. What matters most is HOW to live while waiting for the last days. Christians must always be on the alert and always do what is good in the eyes of the Lord. May we remind ourselves always of the need to pray for our brothers and sisters whose lives are in constant threat because of their faith. Sadly, persecutions continue in many parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Jesus said: “Your perseverance will secure your lives.” The Lord will be with those who suffer in his name. He assures their final victory.