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Luke 21:20-28

The Word of God

'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfilment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 'There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see "the Son of Man coming in a cloud" with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.'

Luke 21:20-28
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Apocalyptic visions no longer move me, Lord. But I hear your warning, that I do not let my heart be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life. The mother of dissipation is not joy but joylessness. In you, Lord, I find the basis of my peace, enabling me to stand up and raise my head. Lord, in nearly ninety years of life I have seen no signs in the sun and the stars. We seem to be still in the early millennia of this blessed planet, a long way off from the apocalypse you describe. It looks like I will see you in person before these things take place. Meanwhile I stand prepared but unworried.
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    • Here Jesus speaks of the fall of Jerusalem and warns that the time of desolation is near and the people must flee to the mountains. There is sadness as Jesus thinks of those who may not be able to flee, the pregnant women, the very old, the most vulnerable. Isn’t it usually these people who bear the brunt of most wars?
    • Lord, how we need the gift of your peace in our world today. All around us wars are raging and your people are suffering. Help us join in the search for peace, help us remember those suffering now and show us Lord how to be of service to them.
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    • Day after day in these Gospel passages Jesus is speaking with his disciples, bracing them against disasters. If he were preaching now he would speak of the atomic bomb, nuclear and ecological disasters, terrorist attacks. ‘Don’t lose heart’ he says to us, ‘God still directs human history and will bring good out of it – your redemption.’
    • I pray: ‘Jesus, when the evil and suffering of the world tempt me to lose faith, let the words of St Thomas Aquinas calm me. He writes that God is so powerful and good that he would allow no evil in any of his works unless he could bring good out of it.’
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    • There is a mixture here of two distinct prophecies of Jesus: one of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 A.D.; the other of the second coming of Christ at the end of the time. The readers of Luke’s gospel could recall how Jerusalem had been laid waste; and they expected the Second Coming of Christ in their lifetime.
    • Our perspective is different, but the theme of distress and desolation still strikes a chord with us. We commend to God in prayer the thousands who live in desolation and foreboding, the victims of war and famine. Lord, in your kingdom look with pity on the suffering people of Iraq, Sudan and other places of misery. For many of them, whether Moslem of Christian, you are their only secure refuge
    • In the midst of all sorts of destruction, redemption, new life, joy can be just around the corner. No matter how life may frighten us, the care and the protection of God is near. Jesus uses creation signs to indicate this.