· Vatican City ·

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: 13 November

What remains

11 November 2022

“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.” Jesus’ prophecy came to pass for the Second Jewish Temple and the sadness of the Jewish people can still be observed today as faithful Jews come to the Western Wall to pray. Some Jews yearn for a third Temple. Will it ever happen? Even if it were to take place, would the words of Jesus remain valid — that what we see with our eyes would one day cease to exist?

Jesus seems to convey the finiteness of everything, not only of things made by human hands: “nation will rise against nation”, “there will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues”, “you will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends.” All things will end: society, nature, even relationships. What will remain?

The original idea of the temple was to house the Ark of the covenant. King David desired to build it, but was denied by God through the prophet Nathan. Solomon, David’s son, was given this honour. However, even at the dedication of the First Temple, Solomon acknowledged, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). In the book of Revelation, when the new Jerusalem will descend from heaven, the first heaven and the first will pass away and the Lamb seated on the throne will say, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). The new reality will commence, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4).

It seems then that we are living in both worlds. We still have temples, churches and shrines even as some are being blown up or burnt to the ground. Some nations are in peace while war continues in Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan and others. The number of disastrous storms has increased in recent years. Some families are in peace while others have members who have not spoken to one another for years. After all these observations, can we remain surprised by the words of our Lord? Heed the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Thus says the Lord: Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do.” Will we permit God to do what he desires to do in and through us? Let Saint Teresa of Avila encourage us.

Let nothing disturb you,

Let nothing frighten you,

All things are passing away:

God never changes.

Patience obtains all things

Whoever has God lacks nothing;

God alone suffices.

*Abbot of St. Martin Abbey
Lacey, Washington

By Fr Marion Nguyen osb *