A Matter of Time

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.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
(Luke 21:5-11)

Scripture Study

21:6 not be left a stone upon another stone This likely describes the destruction of the temple—and most of Jerusalem—by the Romans in ad 70 (compare Luke 19:41–44).

21:7 what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen Refers to Jesus’ comment about the destruction of the temple (v. 6).

21:8 many will come in my name Jesus might be referring to people claiming to be the Messiah or people falsely claiming to work under Jesus’ authority.

21:10 nation will rise up against nation Language reminiscent of several ot passages (e.g., 2 Chr 15:6; Isa 19:2).

21:11 powerful earthquakes and famines and plagues Common motifs of divine judgment (e.g., Deut 32:24; Ezek 6:11; Rev 6:12; 16:18).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus responds to questions about the end of the world. When will it come? What will happen?

Why were the first Christians interested in these questions? The simplest and deepest answer is that they had experienced the end of the world—precisely in the dying and rising of Jesus.

Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, and the nations conspired against him. The old world seemed to conquer this new world that Jesus embodied. But then, in the Resurrection, they saw that the old world—the world predicated upon death and the world that had done Jesus in—was now defeated.

So awed were they by the Resurrection—and you can sense it in every book and letter of the New Testament—that they awaited the imminent arrival of the new state of affairs, the return of Jesus and the establishment of God’s kingdom. Though Jesus did not immediately return, the old world was over, broken, compromised, its destruction now just a matter of time.

– Bishop Robert Barron