Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Luke 21:5-19 - The Lectionary Gospel Lesson for Sunday, November 14, 2010

This is New Revised Standard translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let’s discuss the Word of God.

Luke 21:5-19

5When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. 9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.


  1. While Luke's Gospel has some advantages, I prefer Mark and Matthew
    where the disciples remark about "what wonderful stones and
    buildings" they see in the Holy City. Luke's description shows less
    of the awe and amazement expressed by the pilgrims (disciples). I
    have felt the same awe and amazement when entering some of the great
    cathedrals in England or right here in the United States. On my lunch
    hour one day I went for a walk. I came across a large church and
    decided to go inside. It was awe inspiring. It turned out that I had
    wandered into St. John the Divine cathedral in NYC. Great buildings
    inspire awe - especially when one feels a sense of the Divine
    Presence within.

    On the other hand one can be less than inspired. Such was the case of
    M. Scott Peck when he and his wife arrived in Glasgow, Scotland. In
    his book IN SEARCH OF STONES Peck describes Glasgow as "grimy and
    littered." He also observed that "Glasgow seemed to have more than
    its share of physically crippled or otherwise sickly looking
    citizens." Neither the city nor its citizens inspired any awe.

    Peck observed that cities often have two sides. Growing up, as he
    did, on Park Avenue in NYC he was used to the wonderful buildings and
    the beautiful green areas. Yet he knew that once one reached 96th
    Street the atmosphere changed. The subway emerged onto a rusty iron
    elevated line. The green areas disappeared. The magnificent buildings
    gave way to row tenement housing, etc. This was not the Park Avenue
    that people wrote songs about. Brass and iron tarnish.

    Jesus realized that the City and its temple would also suffer the
    ravages of time. It would not be a slow death, however, it would come
    suddenly and the temple would be destroyed. Not one stone would be
    left standing on another.

    There are a number of themes that this encounter with great stones
    may bring to mind. The contrast between the rich and poor in the
    city. The contrast between our spiritual riches and our spiritual
    poverty. And the Pilgrim's reaction to the Holy Sites. Luther, for
    instance, cried out against the discipline of pilgrimage because of
    the filth and sordid corruption that often surrounded the holy sites.
    He also saw the temptation to think that pilgrimage could help one
    buy one's way into heaven. In one sense he was right, but in another
    sense I think I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. Was
    the baby he threw out the Christ child? Perhaps that is a little too
    strong to put it that way.

    Were the great cathedrals worth the money people paid for indulgences
    that supported the great building projects of the 12th, 13th, 14th
    and 15th centuries? Could the money have better been used for the
    poor? Or is there something in the cathedral that fires the human
    heart and spirit? Many of our beautiful church buildings become an
    albatross about our necks when populations shift. Was the force of
    the Roman army a just end for those beautiful stones and buildings
    that inspired the disciples of Jesus? We look for a great apocalypse
    to come, but maybe we should realize that the apocalypse that comes
    to us will be one much smaller in scale -- little apocalypses.


  2. Compare the passage from Luke with the parallels in Matthew and Mark. I think Luke is making a slightly different point.