Reflection on 33rd Sunday: 17th November 2019

A Temple Destroyed

We may not like it, we may deny it, we may resist it, but the reality is that things are changing: our world, the church, our lives. Sometimes changes are welcome. But there are days when change brings loss or the fear of loss. We could each tell stories about those days. They are stories about the death of a loved one, the diagnosis, a divorce, the business that failed, the job that was lost. These are the days when the temples of our life and world fall. They are stories of dreams and hopes that never came true. We all have temples. Some have been given to us, others we have built for ourselves. Sometimes our temples are people, places, values and beliefs, institutions, dreams. Regardless, they are the things that we think structure and order our lives, give meaning and identity, provide security and stability. At least we think they do, until they fall.

Change has a way of pushing us into the future, looking for signs. What will happen now? What do I do? How do I get through this? If we are not careful we will soon be living in a future we do not yet have. We will be living in a future created in our heads. When Jesus describes things that will happen he is not asking us to speculate about the future. He invites us to be still, to be quiet and not to be led astray. He tells us not to allow our lives to be controlled or determined by fear, not to listen to the many voices that would cause us to run and go after them. Endure he says. Be faithful, steadfast, persevere here and now. Jesus is calling us to be present and faithful in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. If we cannot find God here, in our present circumstances, even in the midst of our temple ruins, we won’t find him anywhere.

We can all tell the story of the day our temple was destroyed. Too often, however, we believe and live as if that is the end of the story. It will be if we run away, scapegoat, respond with anger, look for quick fixes or try to put it back together like it used to be. But it can be the beginning of a new story, a greater story of how we discovered God with us in the temple ruins It is the ongoing story of God, the source of all being, recreating life out of loss and ruin.

Adapted: Michael Marsh