Isaiah 4:2-6 NRSV
A Reading from the Book of Isaiah.
On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NRSV
A Reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
A Reflection on Todays Gospel
Like the people gazing at the physical beauty of the Temple, we, too, can be mesmerized by the fleeting glitter of the treasures of this world. Time, experience, and our faith teach us that things change, including relationships. Our relationships with one another are never static; they are either being weaved more intimately, or they are fraying or coming apart at the seams. This also holds true for our relationship with Christ. All we do moves us deeper into his Sacred Heart or moves us away from him.
Christ is the most sacred of temples; he is the Temple. Yet he changed. His body suffered the wounds that man inflicted upon his body. Christ changed interiorly, too. He suffered loneliness of the worst kind when he experienced the effects of sin in the depths of his soul – separation from the Father and separation from his closest friends, his apostles. Yet in essence, Christ always remained the same, for he is love itself, and love is everlasting. Christ suffered physical and interior changes in his human nature so that we might partake of his divine nature, which is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
For us to enjoy eternal life, we must persevere. St. Paul talks about running the race, and about winning the race. Christ teaches us about the final victory and that to achieve this, we must never deny him. Yet we are weak, and there are many ways that we deny our Lord. How can we who are so weak run the race and win the gift that lasts forever? Christ gives us the answer: Trust in him, not in ourselves or in the things or ways of this world. We will persevere through the grace he won for us on Calvary.
Lord Jesus, your beauty transcends all creation, even my holiest of thoughts. Please bless me with the gift to appreciate more perfectly the limited beauty of created things and the infinite and everlasting beauty of you, my Lord, and my God.
Resolution: Today, I will reflect on the beauty of God’s creation and on the reality that all creation changes. As well, I will see and respect the everlasting beauty that resides, or should reside, in the hearts of all men, so that I will treat all people with the highest degree of respect.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to set my heart on what is eternal and everlasting.
The Gospel Reading
Luke 21:5-19 NRSV
A Reading from the Gospel According to Luke.
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “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.”They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And 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.“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.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.“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. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by 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 of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Psalm 17 NRSV
Hear my plea of innocence, O Lord; give heed to my cry; *
listen to my prayer, which does not come from lying lips.
Let my vindication come forth from your presence; *
let your eyes be fixed on justice.
Weigh my heart, summon me by night, *
melt me down; you will find no impurity in me.
I give no offense with my mouth as others do; *
I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast to the ways of your law; *
in your paths my feet shall not stumble.
I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; *
incline your ear to me and hear my words.
Show me your marvelous loving-kindness, *
O Savior of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; *
hide me under the shadow of your wings,
From the wicked who assault me, *
from my deadly enemies who surround me.
They have closed their heart to pity, *
and their mouth speaks proud things.
They press me hard, now they surround me, *
watching how they may cast me to the ground,
Like a lion, greedy for its prey, *
and like a young lion lurking in secret places.
Arise, O Lord; confront them and bring them down; *
deliver me from the wicked by your sword.
Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand *
from those whose portion in life is this world;
Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, *
who are well supplied with children and leave their wealth to their little ones.
But at my vindication I shall see your face; *
when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.