When St Luke wrote his gospel, the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Romans - this happened in the year AD 70. This must have come as a devastating blow to the Jewish Christians, for the temple would have been at the centre of their lives. This building had been embellished and enlarged by Herod the Great in AD 20; this construction would last for forty six years. While it was the centre of Jewish worship, where God resided, Herod saw its splendour as a reflection of his own glory. Perhaps there might be a hint of this in today’s reading where people were concentrating more on the beauty of the building rather than what it represented. Jesus rather sharply predicted its obliteration. Underlying all this was the fact that he himself was approaching the time when his own body would undergo desecration and would rise again as the New Temple which would last forever and would be the focus of future worship.
At first sight the extract from Luke is frightening; but in fact Our Lord is reassuring us of his continued presence. We see in our world today many of the things he foretold, but we are mindful that God’s plan for humanity is still unfolding and in the face of the prophets of doom, gloom, and fake news it is for us to discern how we can assist in making his kingdom come.
"O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us a sense of your presence, your love and your strength." (St Ignatius)