Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Thirty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 21:1-4 - World English Bible

1 Jesus looked up, and saw the rich people who were putting their gifts into the treasury. 2 He saw a certain poor widow casting in two small brass coins. 3 He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them, 4 for all these put in gifts for God from their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, put in all that she had to live on."

In this short passage, Jesus witnessed a poor widow by a Temple collection chest, donating two small coins (literally "lepta," a Greek coin worth one percent of a daily wage). According to a second century AD Jewish document, the Mishnah, the Temple treasury lay in the Women's Court; it had thirteen collection chests, nine to collect the Temple tax, four for voluntary donations. The Mishnah described these chests as "trumpets" wide at the bottom, narrow at the top opening. Some scholars speculate a priest would blow a trumpet seven times a day to mark the times for donations; indeed, a tower by the Temple Mount, just above Robinson's Arch in Jerusalem, had an inscription that indicated times for the blowing of the trumpet.

Jesus marveled at the donation, for the widow gave everything she had to live off of that day. She contributed all she had for the good of others, unlike others that simply gave out of their surplus.

This simple act by an anonymous widow should give us pause. We should not measure the gifts we give by size or amount, but by the sacrifice they entail.

What gifts have you given lately?

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Tuesday in the Thirty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 21:5-11 - World English Bible

5 As some were talking about the temple and how it was decorated with beautiful stones and gifts, Jesus said, 6 "As for these things which you see, the days will come, in which there will not be left here one stone on another that will not be thrown down."

7 They asked him, "Teacher, so when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are about to happen?"

8 He said, "Watch out that you don't get led astray, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is at hand.' Therefore don't follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and disturbances, don't be terrified, for these things must happen first, but the end won't come immediately."

10 Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines, and plagues in various places. There will be terrors and great signs from heaven."

In Luke 21, Jesus began his discourse on the end times. His disciples awed at the Temple's size (stones) and decorations (votive gifts from the rich). While the building itself only required 18 months to renovate under Herod's patronage, his urban renewal of the Mount lasted 41 years, well beyond the life of the king and of Jesus. The effort, as well as the holy site itself, impressed his followers.

Jesus prophesied most of the edifice would be destroyed and his disciples took this as a sign of the end. He immediately shifted the discussion away from a particular event to the rise of false Messiahs, international conflicts and upheavals of nature on a cosmic scale. Notice how the tension built as peace broke down and transcended the terrestrial realm.

Throughout the week, we will continue with Luke 21 as we investigate Jesus' comments on Tribulation and the Second Coming.

How do you anticipate the end times?

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Wednesday in the Thirty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 21:12-19 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his disciples:

12 "Before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 It will turn out as a testimony for you. 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to withstand or to contradict. 16 You will be handed over even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will cause some of you to be put to death. 17 You will be hated by all men for my name's sake. 18 And not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will win your lives."

In the midst of the Tribulation, Jesus said, the tensions of international conflict (21:9-10) and cosmic upheavals (21:11) would become personal. Jewish Christians would face judgment before synagogue elders; family, friends and community would shun them. Disciples in general would face rejection by others in their neighborhoods; fellow citizens would drag them before magistrates for condemnation on charges of impiety, for refusing to honor the patron gods of the city. Yet, even in all this tension, the Spirit would validate them before other Christians and inspire them before their adversaries. No one could prepare for such events; only the Spirit could provide the words to silence enemies and evangelize others. Even in the face of death, the Spirit would insure the salvation of the faithful. Despite the chaos, the disciples would experience the presence and activity of the Spirit.

How do you see the Spirit work in your life, especially in times of stress?

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Thursday in the Thirty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 21:20-28 - World English Bible

Jesus told his disciples:

20 "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is at hand. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the middle of her depart. Let those who are in the country not enter therein. 22 For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who nurse infants in those days! For there will be great distress in the land, and wrath to this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25 There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and on the earth anxiety of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the waves; 26 men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to happen, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near."

After the signs of the terrestrial and cosmic upheaval, after the persecutions disciples would suffer, the Tribulation would focus on Jerusalem and, finally, the Second Coming. Jesus advised those who lived in and around the capital to flee, for armies would put the city under siege, slay its inhabitants, and tumble down its walls. In the end, greater cosmic signs would accompany the coming of the Son of Man, as described in Daniel 7:13. While these events would disturb the pagan population, disciples should rest assured the Lord came to save them.

Every generation sees its share of uncertainty; many interpret these events as the end of days. No matter the stress and struggles of life, we should take note of Jesus' words. In the end, he will come to save us.

How does faith in Christ help you to cope with daily struggles?

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Friday in the Thirty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 21:29-33 - World English Bible

29 Jesus told them a parable. "See the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see it and know by your own selves that the summer is already near. 31 Even so you also, when you see these things happening, know that God's Kingdom is near. 32 Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things are accomplished. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away."

In Luke 21, Jesus continued his monologue on the end times with a parable and a statement about fulfillment. People can tell the turn of the seasons with the change in tree leaves; why can't they discern the signs of the coming Kingdom? After this rhetorical analogy, he prophesied that "this" generation would not pass away until all these things were accomplished. What did he mean by that statement? Some interpret it not as a reference to the apostolic generation, but to the current populace. Of course, that is religious hubris. The apostolic generation closed with the death of the Twelve (along with St. Paul) and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. It marked a shift from evangelization in the marketplace to surviving criticism and persecution from Jew and pagan alike; it also marked a shift from the establishment of church communities to their maintenance, especially in the growth of church literature like the canonical gospels. Many saw those radical changes as the beginning of the end times; it certainly must have made sense to the audience of Luke's gospel at the end of the first century AD. But, regardless of end times speculation, we and early Christians alike believe Christ spoke his words for all generations.

What message from the gospel struck you today?

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Saturday in Thirty Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 21:34-36 - World English Bible

Jesus told his disciples:

34 "So be careful, or your hearts will be loaded down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day will come on you suddenly. 35 For it will come like a snare on all those who dwell on the surface of all the earth. 36 Therefore be watchful all the time, praying that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will happen, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Jesus concluded his discourse on the end times with an admonition: live moral lives, for the end will come swiftly. Notice watchfulness consisted of moral living and prayer, as if the believer already stood in the Lord's presence. These were the keys to surviving the Tribulation. If the disciple lived with Jesus in his life, he will stand worthy before the Son of Man at the Last Judgment.

How do you realize the Lord in your life today?

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