The world struggles to build many structures and make many improvements. However, anything that is not done in God and for God cannot stand. All that is of earth will finally come to an end. Only God and his will and all who are in his will can last.
In Jesus’ time, the temple in Jerusalem was a glorious structure. For those looking at it, it was the place where they felt that God’s Kingdom was most truly present. But Jesus tells them: “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.” Fear must have gripped their hearts when they heard this, for they knew that the temple had been destroyed before, and Jerusalem was left in ruins as the citizens were driven into exile. So here Jesus’ listeners, looking around at the hostile Roman army occupying the city, quickly ask him: “Teacher, when will this happen?” Jesus answers by cautioning them not to be deceived. To make the point clearer, he describes the nature of the trials that will come. He finishes with the promise that he will protect them, and that by their perseverance they will save their lives.
St. Paul coaches us in the way of “perseverance” in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians. When he was among them, he lived an ordered life and worked constantly for their good while not imposing on them for his own needs. He warns them, and us, not to be disorderly busybodies but rather to keep busy in working toward salvation. “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” As we come to the close of the liturgical year in this month of prayer for the dead, Paul’s words can also be applied to our pursuit of eternal life. It is how we work and the choices we make about following the Lord in our daily lives that determine how we will eat in eternity. Too often we are busy about adorning the outside of the church – both the building and ourselves – and not working toward our own holiness. Paul reminds us to be busy about working for the Kingdom from the inside out, “to work quietly and to eat our own food.” In this way we can do our part in manifesting the glory of God on earth as it is in heaven.
The prophet Malachi tries to awaken our dull consciences: “Lo, the day is coming ….” We must be watchful and ready, preparing ourselves for the Lord’s coming. We need to prepare, not only for the final judgment, but especially for our own individual judgment, which we will face at the moment of death. We are preparing for that day even today, as we enter into the process that the Lord has already begun in us. As our faith is tested in the struggles we face each day, we need to pray for the perseverance that will welcome Christ’s victory into our lives. As we continue our faith journey, let us recall Jesus’ hopeful and encouraging words at the end of today’s Gospel: “… not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Do I pray for perseverance as my faith is tested in my daily struggles in life? Am I busy in working toward my salvation or am I a disordered busybody? In my life, do I only do the will of God or my own?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 15, no. 8. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.