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February 24, 2017

VICTORY IN SIGHT

As we approach the end of the liturgical year, Jesus reminds us once again of the temporary nature of man-made structures, no matter how solid. The Temple in Jerusalem was a magnificent, awe-inspiring, architectural masterpiece. It was the pride of the Jewish nation and the centrepiece of their national life. There was no other building like it anywhere at the time, so the thought of its complete destruction was inconceivable to the people. But that’s exactly what Jesus prophesies in our Gospel passage today! In the same breath, he uses the Temple as an allegory for all the forces in the world opposed to the reign of God’s kingdom. The Temple was ultimately destroyed in 70 AD, some forty years after Jesus’ prediction, and that is a sign for us that everything he said about the final overthrow of evil, and the ultimate vindication of the just, will come to pass. In the fullness of God’s time, God’s will shall prevail and no power can prevent that. Today the Lord leaves his followers an encouraging message: “I will give you an eloquence and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict”.

Being a Christian today is such a tough enterprise, especially in the Western world. With the plethora of attacks on the Church and its leadership, we find our faith under siege. Daily we get ridiculed and intimidated by the secular media and other elements opposed to the Church and its message. In the developing world, the Church continues to suffer violent persecutions from radical Islam and other anti-Christian elements. The Christian Church, the bedrock of Western civilization, is under a relentless attack both from outside and from within. It is not uncommon today to be ridiculed for being open to life or for having a few more children. How many of us are too shy or scared to bless our food in public? How many have given up the faith because society has made it seem obsolete or “uncool”? How many have a spouse, a child, a sibling, a parent or a friend that has completely given up the practice of the faith. We have a problem on our hands!

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At the personal level, many of us are doing it tough in so many ways, even though it might all seem all right from the outside.  There are times when the whole world seems to be caving in on us. There have been times when we’ve been let down by the people we trusted the most. What about the times when we became victims of wicked gossips, false accusations, gang-ups or discrimination? What about the times when you wished you had wings like a dove so you could fly away to a place of rest? Yes, we have those moments of disappointment, despair and desperation. These are the temples of darkness in our lives and the Lord is promising that they will be tumbled in the end.

Dear friends, it could be your children or grandchildren showing signs of rebellion or risky behaviour; it could be the strains in your marriage and all those wonderful dreams and promises of your wedding night have become an illusion. It could be sickness or death in the family and suddenly your whole life has unravelled as everything you ever wanted, everything you ever dreamed or wished for, gradually slips away. That is what it takes to be part of a fallen humanity!

But it will not last! As Jesus predicted about the Temple: “everything will be destroyed.” Likewise, we can be sure that all the earthly temples opposed to God will be destroyed; the temple of sin and unfaithfulness; the temple of hatred and division; the temple of discrimination and the marginalisation of the weak and vulnerable; the temple of greed and economic exploitation; the temple of mindless profiteering; the temple of a medical science that puts money above human dignity; the temple of excessive consumerism that neglects the plight of one’s neighbour; the temple of a political system that spends millions of dollars fighting diplomatic wars to protect trees and animals but then promotes policies that undermine the integrity of marriage and the sanctity of human life, especially at its most vulnerable stages. All these will be destroyed! As the First Reading says: “The day that is coming is going to burn them up.” Our victory is around the corner!

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But despite all, the Psalmist today invites us to sing unto the Lord. The Psalm was composed to celebrate the restoration of Judah after the exile in Babylon. We are invited to sing in anticipation of the final, definitive victory of Christ and his elect over the temples of evil, which will happen at the end of history. In addition, we must learn to be steadfast no matter what the situation is. The Lord will surely vindicate the just in the end.  As Scripture says: “You will be hated on account of my name but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives”.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we must hang in there, and keep on keeping on. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on the Lord. He has engraved you – and me – on the palm of his hands. So, no matter what challenges may come our way, we can rest assured of our safety in the hollow of his hands. May the Father of all consolation grant us the grace of perseverance and hearts full of praise. Amen!

 


 

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