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Janet D'Souza

False Alarms - A Reflection on Luke 21:5-11

A little history lesson today for something different. One of the architectural marvels of Jerusalem was Solomon’s Temple, which King Solomon had built during his reign. The Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian Empire in 586 BC., when Jerusalem was conquered and part of the population was taken into exile to Babylon. After the return of the Jews from exile, they built the Second Temple, which was a modest structure to begin with.

However, during the reign of Herod the Great, the Second Temple was completely refurbished, and the original structure got a radical makeover that included the beautiful stones spoken about in the passage we just read. This was probably done during the lifetime of the apostles, who were pretty much in awe of it, along with all the other Jews. So when Jesus tells that the Temple would be destroyed with not a stone left standing on another, they are pretty shocked. They have two questions: When would this happen? And what would be the signs?

In typical fashion, Jesus does not give a direct answer. He warns them about people who would claim to be all kinds of things. We reflected upon some of these people last week (see: Fake Messiah Alert - https://youtu.be/mm8EI6hH6jw). He also warns them about wars and insurrections, and earthquakes, famines, and plagues. But now, here is the thing. A lot of people believe these are signs of the end times. Which is why whenever there is a major calamity, folks expect Jesus to be coming around the corner.

However, they aren’t signs of the end times. These are the things that will happen much before the end! Note what Jesus says: “These things must take place, but the end will not follow immediately.” Which means that we can actually expect a period of calm before Jesus returns! This reminds me of a story I once heard. Since we are doing things differently today, let me tell it to you.

There was a woman who was terrified of thieves breaking into her house. She would keep waking her husband up two or three times every night because she heard a noise in the house and make him investigate. After weeks of this, the hapless husband confided in a friend who advised him what to do. “Tell her that thieves don’t make noise when they enter.” The husband relayed this to his wife believing he had found a solution for the problem. Unfortunately, it became worse, because now his wife wakes him up ten times because she can’t hear any noise in the house!

So watch out for the quiet.

 

Unlike commonly believed, wars and famines and earthquakes and plagues are NOT signs of end times. #Reflectonthis

Reflection (Luke 21:5-11): False Alarms

An Amazing Way to Live - A Reflection on Luke 21:1-4

The story of the poor widow who put in two small copper coins in the collection box is usually used to illustrate generosity, especially in the context of giving to God, but in truth it is more a story of faith. In giving from the little she had, she was showing that she believed that God would provide for all her needs. I learnt this lesson many years ago, when I had just come to Jesus.

Those of you who know the story of my conversion (https://youtu.be/D61DCnKg7ec) would know that I ended up in jail after having lost everything I had. Since this led to my meeting Jesus, I am glad it happened, but when I was released from jail I was pretty broke. I used to borrow a hundred bucks a week from my wife to pay for fuel and cigarettes (I smoked at the time). It was embarrassing but I didn’t really have a choice. Until I found a job I had to get around.

One day when I was in church, the priest announced a collection was going to be taken for a new church they were building in one of the Emirates. As the ushers went around I heard Jesus telling me to drop my 100 in the basket. “You gotta be kidding,” I muttered in my head. “That’s all I got! I’m not going to ask my wife for more money.” He was insistent but I did a good job of ignoring him, and then the basket moved on. I heaved a sigh of relief, believing that was the end of that, but Jesus doesn’t let go easily.

As I was leaving, I saw a big box labelled “Collection for New Church” right near the exit doors. “Drop it in”, I heard Jesus say again. (I know you are supposed to say you SENSE Jesus speaking to you, or some such, but I can tell when somebody is talking to me). I walked out, thinking this was nuts, but then stopped. Then, very reluctantly, I retraced my steps, and rather angrily extricated the note I had in my wallet and shoved it into the box.

When I went home, I entered the house and found an envelope on the floor. It had obviously been slipped under the door. I opened it to find 1000 bucks in it. I had lent it to somebody years ago and he had been inspired to return it to me that morning. I am convinced that the envelope would not have been there I hadn’t dropped the hundred in the box.

I learnt a huge lesson in faith that day. And it has stood me well in the years that followed. Today, while people agonize about how much to tithe, I simply don’t bother. I give God everything. In return there is nothing that he doesn’t provide for. Not only does he look after my personal needs, he takes care of everything in the ministry, without my ever having to ask anybody for anything. It is truly an amazing way to live, and the widow in today’s story would agree.

You should try it and see.

A life of total dependance on God provides a truly amazing way to live. Ask me. I should know. #Reflectonthis

Reflection (Luke 21:1-4): An Amazing Way to Live

End of the Line? - A Reflection on Luke 23:35-43
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

I am often invited to pray with people who are terminally ill, and as they approach death, their responses are markedly different from one another. While many are anxious, even fearful, I have seen some go to their deaths with much bitterness, angry about what they think was an unfair hand. Others seem joyous, their faces glowing despite the pain they are undergoing. I know that these people have had a real encounter with Christ, and have an understanding about suffering and death that few among us do.

The two criminals who were crucified along with Jesus were also going to their deaths, and their reaction was a study in contrasts. While one was scornful and mocking, revealing the total corruption of a soul gone wild, the other is respectful and repentant. What went wrong with the first man, I wonder. It was probably a lifetime of pain that resulted in a desire to inflict it back upon the world that caused it. Even a few minutes from death there was still only the desire to hurt. I actually felt sorry for him and wished he had repented like the other criminal.

What was different about the other criminal though? He did wicked things too. The difference was that he hadn’t entirely lost his faith in God, and that can be a saving grace. Literally, as it turned out in his case. “Do you not fear God?”, he asks the man who is heaping insults upon Jesus. Despite his actions that have resulted in securing him a place on the cross, he has not lost his sense of right and wrong. He acknowledges his mistakes: “We are getting what we deserve for our deeds,” he said, “but this man has done nothing wrong.”

He then turns to Jesus and says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus replies, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” I am sure the guy died at peace. Which is something only Jesus can give us. I have spoken to people who don’t believe in God, and despite their bravado, I sense fear in many of them. They go to their deaths hoping that it is the end-all, but there is the dread that it might not be. And what if it isn’t?

In the days when I was an atheist, most of the people around me were believers, and they used to look at me as though I was mad wondering how somebody could not possibly believe in God. Today, I am close to him, but many of them are so far, far away, marching to their own drummer. I don’t know if any of them might be watching this, bu this observation holds good for everyone. After 25 years of not believing in God, do you think I would have started believing unless I was certain he existed and totally convinced that what he said was true?

If you are in two minds about the existence of God, please just think about what I said. And if you are a believer, please forward this reflection to somebody who is not. You might save a soul.

I know most of us dislike thinking about death, much less talking about it, but here’s an exercise. How do you think you will feel on your deathbed? :) #Reflectonthis

Reflection (Luke 23:35-42): End of the Line?

Reading 1          DN 2:31-45

Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar:
"In your vision, O king, you saw a statue,
very large and exceedingly bright,
terrifying in appearance as it stood before you.
The head of the statue was pure gold,
its chest and arms were silver,
its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron,
its feet partly iron and partly tile.
While you looked at the statue,
a stone which was hewn from a mountain
without a hand being put to it,
struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces.
The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once,
fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer,
and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace.
But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain
and filled the whole earth.

"This was the dream;
the interpretation we shall also give in the king's presence.
You, O king, are the king of kings;
to you the God of heaven
has given dominion and strength, power and glory;
men, wild beasts, and birds of the air, wherever they may dwell,
he has handed over to you, making you ruler over them all;
you are the head of gold.
Another kingdom shall take your place, inferior to yours,
then a third kingdom, of bronze,
which shall rule over the whole earth.
There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron;
it shall break in pieces and subdue all these others,
just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything else.
The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter's tile and partly of iron,
mean that it shall be a divided kingdom,
but yet have some of the hardness of iron.
As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile,
and the toes partly iron and partly tile,
the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
The iron mixed with clay tile
means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage,
but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
In the lifetime of those kings
the God of heaven will set up a kingdom
that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people;
rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms
and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever.
That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain
without a hand being put to it,
which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold.
The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future;
this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure."

Responsorial Psalm          DANIEL 3:57, 58, 59, 60, 61

R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.

"Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

"Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

"You heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

"All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

"All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Alleluia          RV 2:10C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel         LK 21:5-11

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."

Reading 1         DN 1:1-6, 8-20

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came
and laid siege to Jerusalem.
The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
and some of the vessels of the temple of God;
he carried them off to the land of Shinar,
and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god.

The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain,
to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood
and of the nobility, young men without any defect,
handsome, intelligent and wise,
quick to learn, and prudent in judgment,
such as could take their place in the king's palace;
they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans;
after three years' training they were to enter the king's service.
The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine
from the royal table.
Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah.

But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself
with the king's food or wine;
so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement.
Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy
of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel,
"I am afraid of my lord the king;
it is he who allotted your food and drink.
If he sees that you look wretched
by comparison with the other young men of your age,
you will endanger my life with the king."
Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain
had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah,
"Please test your servants for ten days.
Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men
who eat from the royal table,
and treat your servants according to what you see."
He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days;
after ten days they looked healthier and better fed
than any of the young men who ate from the royal table.
So the steward continued to take away
the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables.

To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency
in all literature and science,
and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams.
At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation,
the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar.
When the king had spoken with all of them,
none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah;
and so they entered the king's service.
In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them,
he found them ten times better
than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.

Responsorial Psalm          DANIEL 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R.(52b) Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you on the throne of your Kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

"Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever."

R. Glory and praise for ever!

Alleluia          MT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel          LK 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, "I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."

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