Read the Short Gospel Reflection for Sunday November 13th By Fr Brian Maher OMI
Sunday November 13th 2022, the 33rd Sunday of the Year, Year C
TO PROPERLY understand today’s Gospel would require a History and Theology lesson on how the people reading Luke’s Gospel understood ‘Temple’ and ‘covenant’, the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ (not the Harrison Ford version!) and even something about the Chosen People’s wanderings in the desert with Moses, or their later exile in Babylon. Approaching the Gospel in this way is either fabulously interesting or deadly boring, depending on how you view such things. I will admit I tend towards interesting and so I planned – and even wrote – what I would consider a reasonably lucid and only slightly inaccurate reflection on the Gospel.
Then, as I was looking for a short final paragraph to link the reflection to our own lives, I found myself thinking about COP27, which is happening in Egypt as you read this. After just two sentences of what I thought was the final paragraph, I stopped short, saying to myself that the Gospel, the Good News, is not about history or even theology, but about life and living.
I therefore, with a certain reluctance, scrapped my first reflection and decided to run with this, much shorter, one. It may not be history or theology – or maybe it is? – but it certainly is more relevant and unsettling than my first effort.
This week, from COP27 in Egypt, we are hearing terribly dire warnings from World leaders about climate change and the, nearly, unrecoverable damage we are doing to our planet. I was immediately struck by the starkness of the opening address of the Secretary General of the United Nations:
“We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing.
Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing.
Global temperatures keep rising.
Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.
We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”
Over the next two weeks we will, I fear, listen to many words of encouragement from leaders of, mostly Western, wealthy countries. None of them backed by verifiable actions or results. We will also hear many promises, beautifully written and spoken, none of which will come, I fear, from hearts which seem open or generous.
Based on the words of the Secretary General I have to wonder whether we are, in fact, seeing the beginning of the end of life on our planet as we know it.
Today’s Gospel talks about, “Nation fighting against nation, Kingdom against Kingdom?”. Is this what we are presently experiencing in our world?
What about the “great earthquakes, diseases and famines…” promised in today’s Gospel?” Are the floods and droughts, the hurricanes and landslides ravishing our earth and causing so much death and destruction, the “fearful sights and great signs from Heaven.”?
Personally, I don’t believe God speaks to us in this way, but if the things in this Gospel are what we are experiencing, then they do not come from God, but from us. They are not God punishing us or judging us. Rather, they are our own short-sightedness and selfishness, our own pride and arrogance rising to destroy us.
Very, very challenging is the statement that around us there are those who speak with “an eloquence and wisdom that none of their opponents can resist or contradict.”
I already heard that eloquence in the angry and impassioned words of a few Prime Ministers who are literally seeing their small, low lying countries sinking into the sea, and who warn us that we are next. For years now, I have heard that wisdom speak through people like Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough, and other prophets of our age.
And yes, I even hear that wisdom in the silent protests of those who chain and glue themselves to roads, airport runways and train tracks.
Might these people be those who, in our Gospel, are “persecuted, imprisoned and even hated my many”? Much as I would like to, I cannot fully exclude myself from this last group, because I, too, feel hard done by and unfairly treated when my busy schedule and urgent meetings are delayed or disrupted by ‘Climate Change’ protestors.
And here is the unsettling thought. If all of these people witness to the truth of our world, and every single scrap of science says that they do, then we cannot escape the reality that we are the persecutors, not the persecuted; we are the haters, not the hated.
If this is true we are not the heroes of today’s Gospel, not those Luke and Jesus are talking to, but we are the villains of this Gospel, those Luke and Jesus are warning against. We may even be shocked to find ourselves on the wrong side of today’s Gospel.
If this were put to us by Jesus, would we not say in reply, “… But Lord, we didn’t realise; we didn’t know….”, and might not Jesus then smile at us sadly he say, “Did you not read my Gospel? Did you not listen to my warnings and pleas about this very thing? I sent you prophets; did you not heed them?”
Somehow, I am not convinced that my excuses of being busy or in a hurry or having important meetings to attend will cut much ice, if you’ll pardon the pun!
The Secretary General of the United Nations concluded his opening remarks with these words:
“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish.
It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact – or a Collective Suicide Pact.”
Really, there are no words to adequately follow that.
|Gospel||Luke 21:5-19 ©|
The destruction of the Temple foretold
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