Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel for the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, November 13, 2022. The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection November 13 2022. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photo: Sharon Mollerus, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons; Deror Avi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus 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.”
Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
“Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.
Luke is the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke’s community would be familiar with both. Many of the things Jesus taught in the Gospel came to be fulfilled during the lifetime of the Christian community and are described in Acts, which was written about the year 80AD.
The people for whom Luke was writing had a much different sense of time than most Americans. They lived in the present and did not worry about preparing for the future (“Give us this day our daily bread”). The present had enough challenges to overcome without adding those of the future. Past events quickly faded in importance. It was up to God to hold the past and be attentive to the approaching future.
The prophets of the day were gifted with a glimpse into the mind and time of God. There were false prophets who believed God had given them some insight, but their insights turned out to be false. It was difficult to know which were the false and which were the true prophets until the unfolding of the foretold events actually did or did not come to pass. This reality influences how Luke presents Jesus to his readers. Luke portrays Jesus as a prophet whose words do come true. His followers should be reassured that their faith in Jesus is true and they have not been led astray by some false prophet.
The first verses of the text speak of the splendor of the temple. This temple was rebuilt when the Jews returned from being enslaved in Babylonia and was renovated under King Herod. After the renovations, the temple surpassed the splendor of the original built by Solomon and became a source of great pride among the Jews. In the second verse, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple. It came to pass when Rome invaded Jerusalem in 70AD.
As important as the temple was for the people, this gospel is not about the destruction of the temple. Rather, the gospel is about the signs that will lead up the destruction of the temple and the whole of Jerusalem. Those events are “signs” because people will need someone to interpret their meaning. Jesus says that some who will come and say, “I am the one who can interpret these events for you” are mistaken. Jesus does not want the people to be misled. The signs themselves include the political and natural world. The disturbances in these arenas will lead to personal turmoil. Jesus’ followers will endure suffering at the hands of the government, neighbors, and even family. All suffer during this period; they suffer because they are Jesus’ followers. Jesus urges them to persevere, trusting in Jesus, the one who correctly speaks the mind of God.
- Why do you think people were speaking about how the temple was adorned? What do you think the costly adornments meant for them?
- Are you aware of examples of the same kind of thought process going on in our society? Do you find yourself thinking of things in a similar way at times?
- Jesus gives two exhortations to people of his day in this gospel. (1) Do not be deceived! (2) do not be terrified! How is Jesus responding to the reality of the existence of true and false prophets of his day?
- How is this gospel speaking to you and your lived reality?
- Can you take some time to talk to God about whatever has come up within you as you read and reflected on this gospel?