I have trouble with the end of the liturgical year readings. Ugh, the Temple will fall. We live in Orange County, CA – nothing is forever. Anaheim Stadium has been re-modeled, perhaps rebuilt, three times since 1966. I enjoy a walk around the Magic Kingdom just to find its original pieces. Our own St. Juliana Church complex has undergone many “enhancements” since 1965 when it was founded. We Catholics glory with the re-do of a cathedral church in Garden Grove from Crystal to Christ Forever.
I no longer expect original physical structures to last forever. I mourn the demolition of old buildings of which I grew fond for newer ones. However, the loss of the immaterial is a more significant sadness. The passing of “Old-time religion” and “old time civility” is worth mourning. Sometimes the negotiable and the non-negotiable are tossed into the same trash bin. The baby is lost with the bath water.
Simple values used to be expected. We’ve come a long way from the simple values that got us through the Great Depression and two world wars. From Leave it to Beaver to the Simpsons, from General Eisenhower to The Kardashians, times they’ve been a changing. Today winning is far more important than playing the game, honorably, with dignity. We’re bombarded every moment by reminders that how we look and smell and dress is far more important than being authentic. Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. And there is no success without excess. When Tweets become truth, it’s surface over substance.
Don’t over-look these gems in today’s Gospel. Jesus tells us, “See to it that you [will] not be deceived.” Means do not be naïve. “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Means do not despair. And a great kicker in the middle, the one I have great trouble with, “Do not worry about your defense beforehand.” Can that mean, it’s all improvisation? Most likely, it means, when you have a relationship with Jesus he is at not only your side, but also your leader. Let Jesus be your strength and salvation.
We can lose physical structures. Past wars blew many churches to rubble. Intellectual arguments challenge religious Truth. Yet the faith survives. Great basilicas, cathedrals, and libraries can be destroyed. Church trappings will change.
The church survived even the physical destruction of its Founder! But as long as even a few hearts are galvanized by the joy of the Incarnation and the promise of Resurrection, someone, somewhere will be whispering, “Take this and eat. This is my Body.” We’ll always have what St. Thomas Aquinas called the Eucharist, “Food for the journey.” And nothing in God’s creation could prevent Christ from coming to us and us going out into the world and heaven.
What Good News will you spread this week?