Jesus said, “All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered,“See that you not be deceived,for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! 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.” Then he said to them,“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky. Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you,they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Luke 21)
The most powerful statement in today’s gospel is Jesus telling us to just keep our mouths shut. Wisdom comes from above. Jesus himself will give us the wisdom we need to see us through through the next day…and especially the next four years.
This divisive election cycle has finally ended with its surprise ending. “Make America Great Again” wins out over the supposed status quo. I was talking to a young Black employee at work and said, “Slavery wasn’t so bad, you were always employed!” (Is that what “Again” means?) He laughed back at me and told me that he wasn’t going to vote. A young Black man wasn’t going to vote when he only received that privilege during my lifetime.
Wisdom from me? Keep my mouth shut. Jesus ends this happy Gospel with the word, “perseverance.” In other words, hang in there for the long haul. It’s only four years.
But the Gospel today dates itself in its punishments. None of us are likely to appear before a king or governor and imprisoned for our beliefs – my family may try to hand me over but that of works both ways.
The punishment for today’s views is simply between us, “you and me.” You tell me something I don’t agree with and we both react without either of us digesting what the other is saying. (Sounds like “talk radio” or “cable news?”) Many sentences from both of us are wasted on both of us and what remains is a growing tightening in our stomachs, a troubling unrest registered first in our minds and then responded to by our bodies.
That “tightening” feeling is God’s wisdom trying to get tucked into in our stupidly-stubborn-hard-held beliefs. During conversations like that, if there is no tightening in your stomach then I’d be very concerned for your health. Then there’s a problem. The solution you offer me to any of society’s problem is as good as any of my solutions. Combine them together and I truly believe we may have God’s wisdom living and breathing in our divided world.
We are all so “right” in our certitude that we don’t need a king or governor. Our “right” words only shows our continuing lack of God’s wisdom – It’s a wisdom that I truly believe lies in a word we don’t hear much these days. I don’t mean to upset you but the word is “compromise.”
My nephew in Washington State and I were emailing back and forth for quite a period of time on religious and social issues and agreeing on nothing except our email addresses. So what he did was, he created a table in an email with my comments in one column and refuting Biblical references in the next column. And those two columns did not match!
My sister, formerly a Catholic nun, now recently retired as a Unitarian ordained minister rejects the Catholic Church teachings of her upbringing but never fails to include them in her sermons.
My other sister has a 20-year-old son who’s never been baptized waiting for him to choose a religion for himself. (I said to her, “Why not at least baptize the kid in the Catholic Church so he can grow up and reject it!”)
My brother, a former Christian Brother, quit and joined a church where you can believe whatever you wish. Good for him. He’s just created his own, personal god.
Perseverance and wisdom. Are they two conflicting words or are they two powerful words that bring us closer to something dynamic and inspiring…what’s another word, how about divine? Combine those two words and watch us bond as a nation and watch us bond us as Church.
This is not a new dilemma for me. Rewind over thirty years ago and I’m in a restaurant, 10:00 at night with parish council members after our meeting. I’m wearing a Roman collar (I did that in those days) and having a Manhattan and smoking (you could do that in those days.) We’re nearing eating our meal and a woman passes me by and drops a piece of paper in front of me and walks out the restaurant. I pick it up and it’s a bank deposit slip. She wrote on it “St Paul said that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and look what you’re doing to yourself.” Stupidly, of course, her address is on the bank deposit slip. The next day I write to her (we actually mailed letters in those days) and wrote that Scripture also says, “‘What comes out of your body is more important than what goes in it.’ Why don’t we meet and talk about this.” She never replied because she was so right in her perseverance but not in her wisdom.
Perseverance is never about “I’m right and you’re wrong,” in Church matters of any matter. Perseverance can only be married to wisdom and wisdom only comes from God.