Luke’s gospel emphasizes detachment from material things (for the kingdom is not found in these things nor is God’s presence or being, as in idols) which is more Luke’s way of thinking about the end of things and/or the return of Christ, not necessarily the same things. For Luke’s community, the old order certainly was passing away with the Roman sacking of Jerusalem, and just as things pass away, new things (the reign of God in the Christian assembly) come into existence.

Luke’s original community were surely familiar with the violence of Roman conquest. The Romans were successful because they were brutal, unsparing. So the passage is not so much as in other Gospel apocalyptic narratives about the end of the world, but rather about things the christian community is already experiencing. Because of their complete otherness, their deep critique of the imperial state, and their vision of the reign of God, and adding to this the resurrection, the early communities knew persecution from the beginning.

The Church in the North American scene is no longer “other”, but has fit in very nicely with the rest of the bourgeoisie. We’ve lost our ethical ground to critique the capitalistic state because we’ve bowed to it, and we now think of the reign of God in terms of prosperity religion.

Our passage is not the end of Luke’s “time of persecution” narrative. It goes on with more graphic details about who will survive and who will not. Luke cautions against dissipation, drunkeness, and distractions, urging the community to remain steadfastly awake to the signs of the times.

At the end of all this “time of persecution” talk, Luke notes that the people got up early to come to the ‘Temple and hear the teachings of Jesus.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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