Over these last two years in our new Parish Center, I have innumerably given tours to guests, visitors, and parishioners, focusing especially on the beautiful parts. We all gawk at the whole thing, and we marvel. There been many compliments, almost zero criticism. So I really understand the gospel opening this Sunday in which some people are speaking about the splendor of the Temple.

While I’m promoting earthly beauty and all that, Jesus takes the wind right out of their sails and graphically envisions for them the end of the world, if not a prediction of the events of AD 71. From his death and ascension to the destruction of the Temple, Jesus predicts the persecution of the apostolic church. So it happened. It only intensified over the next two hundred years. Of course Luke is writing this most likely after the First Jewish War and the Acts after the martyrdom of Peter and Paul. As they witnessed the Jewish leadership go after Jesus, they oculi not but be aware that this too was their fate.

There is not persecution in the North American Catholic Church today, and what little there is stems from the fact that Catholic were and are considered to come from immigrant stock, questionably white enough and form the lower classes. There is little persecution because of the Gospel. We’ve been so assimilated and enculturated that we safely fit in with everyone else. It strikes me that the followers ask for time and sign so that they can rescue themselves.

Our signs given today are largely environmental, which we are ignoring, and secondly the sheer exhaustion of resources in endless wars. Ostrichs hide their heads in a hole in face of threat.

Jesus speaks two truths: first this world is passing away, and second the church will be persecuted. Survival depends on faithfulness, endurance, and perseverance.

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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