Say what you will, but Jesus certainly had this call correct:
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.”
Two thousand years later, people still mourn the destruction of what must have been one of the ancient world’s most spectacular edifices. They (we) still show up at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and venerate the rubble.
Indeed, I myself felt drawn to touch what’s left of Herod’s Temple. I discovered that the ruins contain an almost palpable energy. In the cool hewn stones, you can feel remnants of the human misery they witnessed in 70 AD. Remnants, too, of the national / political / religious pride that preceded the misery.
It’s all there, too, I noticed, in the apocalyptic readings we hear this time of year at Sunday Mass. The scripture texts seem to caution us against ever getting too comfortable. And it’s easy to get caught up in the dire predictions of ‘wars, insurrections…earthquakes, famines and plagues from place to place.’
We get so caught up in the predictions, in fact, that we can tend to overlook the promise of Christ’s presence:
I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
I think I felt a bit of that power yesterday, when I was blessed to take part in a lectio divina workshop at our parish. One of the facilitators, Fr. Phil Krill, reminded us that temple buildings and church facilities never have been a reliable source of spiritual strength. “Your temple may well tumble in your lifetime,” he said.
But we do have something – or more precisely, Someone – much more powerful to cling to: Jesus Christ. God, incarnate.
God, become human…so that we humans can become God. “It sounds heretical,” he said. But it’s actually a mystical truth of our faith, one that’s been taught since the earliest days of Christianity.
Fr. Phil shared a prayer with us, to help us meditate on this prized consolation we are offered. I find it altogether too moving to keep to myself.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.