Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Rv 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9; Gospel Lk 21:20-28
Jesus continues his warnings of what is to come. It is true that Jerusalem was encircled by the armies of Rome. The safest place to be was not in the city, which was reduced to rubble, but in the surrounding hills. Jesus is emphasizing not so much the actual events but rather their cause, the faithlessness and corruption of so many for which destruction was the inevitable outcome. So he calls them the days of retribution or the time of punishment and not indicating God’s revenge but the natural result of evil and corruption.
It will be a particularly difficult time for women who are pregnant or nursing. It will be a time of great distress. Many will be cut down and others will be led away into captivity to pagan territories. Finally, Jesus speaks of various disastrous and apocalyptic signs to signal the end of time. They are typical biblical phenomena and not meant to be taken as exact foretelling of events. They conclude with Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man riding on a cloud coming with great power and glory. It is not intended to fill people with fear and trembling, except perhaps those who have lived wicked lives.
But for the disciples, the loyal followers of Jesus, it is a time to stand up straight and raise your heads, for your redeeming is near at hand. As we saw in yesterday’s Gospel, sufferings and tribulations are part and parcel of living the Christian life to the full. For those who have tried to live by the vision and values of the Gospel, for those who have tried to seek and find Jesus in all the people and events of their lives, it is the time of their final liberation, a time when there will be no more sorrows, no more tears, no more hardships, no more disappointments. Rather, they will be entering an unbroken time of love and intimacy, of freedom and peace, of joy and consolation. So, as we approach the end of another liturgical year, let us enter the peace and joy given by Christ.