Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

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“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.”

Luke 21:5-11

When I think of wars and insurrections I think of two things, one is that a group wants to stay in power and the other is someone wants to remove them from power. Two warring parties are never in agreement. The debate comes down to how one group rises and maintains their power, and why that other group might want to remove them. The argument does not place a moral opinion on either group as either the aggressor or the defender can be justified. Often it is the group that has established power are the just ones. The aggressors often are bandits simply trying to profit from another’s labor. It happens too though that those in power gained that power purely through aggression, or tactical advantage; a moral right might have little to do with their success. Often too the degree of disagreement or injustice indicates the level of peace between two groups. No battle does not mean there is no tension, and if there is tension and that tension builds, there eventually will be a settling of scores. Think back to that ancient temple, the Roman oppressors, the opportunist Jewish leaders, the oppressed masses; they might have been able to maintain a truce, but the only way a true peace would occur is for all sides to fight for it. Their old unjust society needed to be torn down so that a just one could replace it. The tearing down of the old though did not require the destruction of property, only the destruction of the injustice. Interesting that this gospel of the tearing down of the temple comes today. Today, rather than looking at an ancient society, it is so much easier to see that scriptural message in today’s society. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ferguson: I wonder how many of these battles will be fought only to reach a partial settlement. Or might those conflicts be taken to their completion where the injustice is torn down so that justice can replace it. That tearing down of injustice though does not require the destruction of property, only the annihilation of injustice. Sadly though it is easier for us to face the destruction of the battle field, rather than face injustices of our own making. Such is our stubbornness.

I am sure that when Jesus fellow citizens of Jerusalem heard him speak of destroying and rebuilding the temple, they thought of the destruction of property that is so common in wars and uprisings. Having they given it a little thought though, they might have understood the destruction of that temple society as they knew it and the rebuilding of the relationship with their God that the temple was representing. The conflict was not only between Jesus and the Temple, the temple itself was conflicted. In one instance it was the center of that covenant between God and man, on the other it was an economical and nationalistic focal point for a people that had a relationship with God. That temple society needed to be deconstructed so that the relationship between God and man could be restored. I wonder though if that required the toppling of stone and mortar. It seems that all that needed to be removed were the obstacles surrounding that building that interfered with that relationship between God and man. Restoring that relationship though, took more than destruction of a building. It took Jesus Christ’s death on a cross and His resurrection. In today’s wars and insurrections, do we really need the destructions of battle fields and angry mobs; or do we really need the destruction of injustices, and the rising to a life restored? Is what really needed the dying to sin and the rising to life?

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