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  • Writer's pictureRev. Fr. Anuraj R.L.

Not to perish on the last day

Jesus, before concluding his public ministry talks about the final things, the things about the end of the world. It is one of the most speculative topics in the religious world. So, let’s begin.

When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’

It was a shocking statement for a Jew. Because for Jews, the Jerusalem Temple is of utmost importance, and they saw a deeper significance in the Temple itself.

First and foremost, it was the dwelling place of God. In the book of Kings (1 Kings 8), we read that the Lord comes down from Heaven to dwell in the Temple through shekinah, the glory cloud. Secondly, the Temple was the sole place for worshipping God through sacrifices. Thirdly, the Temple was viewed as a microcosm of Heaven and Earth. In other words, the Jews saw the architecture of the Temple itself as symbolizing the Heavens and the Earth.

The different parts of the Temple, like the bronze full of water, represented the sea. The lamp stand, the menorah in the Temple, represented the lights of the Heavens, the seven planets known in the ancient world. And on the veil of the Temple, which basically divided the Holy of holies from the outer court, were woven the constellations to symbolize the fact that the veil represented Heaven, whereas behind the veil represented the invisible realm of God. That is why it is prominently mentioned in the Gospel that when Jesus died, the veil of the Temple is torn in two. That means Heaven itself is torn open by the death of Christ. Thus the Temple was, in fact, a symbol of this universe, a microcosm of the universe. So, for Jews, the destruction of the Temple means the destruction of the whole universe.

Therefore, Jesus’ prophecy was not only a reality that had to happen to the Jerusalem Temple historically but also a reality that should happen in the universe on the last day. Historically we know that the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Similarly, the end of the age will happen.

With this reality in mind, the fall of the Jerusalem temple needs to be mditated a little deeper.

“The time will come when not a single stone will be left on another” means that all material realities, except the reality of Christ, will perish one day. Christ said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” It means that nothing that is not identified with the truth of Christ and His Word will exist.

When the Jerusalem temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the most important thing, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Tablet of Ten Commandments pointing to Christ the Word made flesh, Aaron’s rod pointing to the true priest who is Christ, and the pot containing the manna indicating Christ, the true bread from Heaven, was missing from the Temple from the Babylonian Exile in 587 BC. That Temple was destroyed. Yes, everything that does not have the presence of Christ and that which is not united with Christ will ultimately perish. We should take it seriously. Because in the New Testament, St Paul teaches us that we are the Temple of the living God. (1 Cor 3:17).

So if we are the Temple of God, then we must be united to Christ so that we may not perish. God became man in order to save man from such destruction. So, how can we unite with Christ? We can unite ourselves to Christ in two ways. One is to read the Sacred Scripture, and the second is to receive the Holy Communion. Christ himself said: Whoever eats my flesh, I will raise him on the last day. The Sacred Scripture is the “Word inspired”, whereas the Eucharist is the “Word incarnated”. Both are Christ, but never think that one of them is enough to be united with Christ. No, never. For to unite man with Christ is like welding two metal rods. When joining two materials, for example, in soldering, it is cleaned by applying soldering flux before it is heated with an iron rod to melt and join.

Similarly, man is to be purified before he is united to Christ. In the Gospel of John, Christ says: You are clean because of the word you have just heard (cfr. Jn 15:3). Yes, because the word cleanses us, the first part of the Holy mass is dedicated to the breaking of the word of God. Those who are thus cleansed are united with Christ by the Holy Communion, the fiery body of Christ. Consequently, man becomes immortal, qualifying for eternity. So dear friends, let us always keep the presence of Christ in our hearts so that we may be one with Christ to be raised to eternal life on the last day.

In the second part of the Gospel, we see Christ’s warnings. The people who heard this prophecy wanted to know when it would happen and what sign there would be that this was about to take place. Jesus gives as a sign great tragedies, wars, epidemics and divisions. If so, when would it begin? Perhaps no other subject in the religious world has misled man to most occult speculative realms. Many people come with different opinions. But the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that from the time that Jesus began His passion, His suffering and His death, the last days, the end times, started (CCC 585). So, we have been in the last days since the passion and death and resurrection of Jesus.

The wars, natural disasters, epidemics, and Christian persecutions from the first century to this day are all signs of the last days. But when we see these, Jesus says that His disciples need not be afraid, for not a hair of your head will be lost. It is comforting and gives us hope. This is where Christ becomes very different from anyone else. Anyone who wants to bring people with him tells them the comforting things to follow. But Jesus does not say that those who become his disciples will not have sickness or suffering but will have to face the frightening imperfections of this world. During the covid 19 pandemic, some people have asked, where has the Lord gone? Where are your healing ministers...? This is also the answer to them. Wars and diseases are all foretold by the Lord. They will be fulfilled. Then the question is whether God is doing this. Never. From the beginning, God gave man the freedom to choose between good and evil. It’s just that everyone acts accordingly. In the final days, the devil tries to conquer man with all kinds of tricks, like a wounded animal going around wondering who to gouge. Only those who succumb to it will fight against their own brothers.

That is why the apostle Peter wrote, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.” (1 Pt 5: 8-9).

Therefore, may each one of us be able to resist the devil by standing with faith and knowing that it is time to bear witness to our Lord without rejecting Him in our sufferings and working with hope in eternal life.

May God bless you!

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