The Gospel according to Luke (21:5-11)
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?”
“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.”
Today, as we near the end of the liturgical year, we celebrate the life of St Cecilia, virgin and martyr. It actually presents a good lesson for us to consider along with today’s Gospel passage. It should sound familiar, as we had it for Sunday Mass just a week or two ago.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is asked about the “end times”, as He tells His listeners how the magnificent Jerusalem temple would be thrown down, without a stone on top of another. For the Jews, that is the “end”, as the temple was the center of their worship life. And, Jesus foretold correctly, as not forty years after these words, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, including the temple, leaving only the one wall now revered by Jews as the “Wailing Wall”.
The important thing to focus on in today’s Gospel is how Jesus tells us not to be terrified, no matter what may be going on in the world around us. I submit that is absolutely as true today as it was when Jesus first said these words. It is a challenge to live a life without fear, and it is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit living in each of us. It doesn’t mean that we don’t worry. It just means that we trust in the God who loves us and who created us to carry us through whatever it is that is worrying us.
St Cecilia faced a life-or-death struggle, too. She was betrothed to a man and had promised God that she would live a celibate life. She was able to convert her husband to become Christian, and he respected her vows. But, in third-century Rome, being a Christian still was a role that often ended in martyrdom, and that was true for Cecilia and her husband, Valerian. St Cecilia is the patron of musicians, because legend says that during her wedding to Valerian, she sang hymns of praise to God. The bottom line is that St Cecilia also lived without fear, and she was able to do so through the power of the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit is there to help us live without fear, too.
As we walk on these final steps of this liturgical year, let us ask our Lord to help us live without fear, and to anticipate the joy of Christmas as we start the new liturgical year this coming weekend. God wants us to live without fear, and with hope. What better time to practice that, than the glorious hopeful season of Advent, coming up this weekend?
St Cecilia, pray for us!
Action for the Day:
Take time today to think about whatever it is that you fear in your life. Write it down, and then offer it to God, that He may, through His Holy Spirit, release you from that fear, and allow you to live in the knowledge that He is there with you through it all.
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!