By Patient Endurance You Will Live.

 

            Today’s gospel begins with the disciples marveling at the glory of the 

Temple.  It must have been something to see.  The Temple they looked at was 

one of the wonders of the world.  It was brand, spanking new.  It had taken fifty 

years for Herod to rebuild the Temple.  The original Temple, the Temple that 

Solomon built, was destroyed by the Babylonians at the beginning of the captivity 

in 588 BC.  When the Israelite returned to Jerusalem around 528, the people had 

all to do to build shelters for themselves.  It took about fifteen years for them to 

begin to build a new Temple.  This was modest undertaking, merely adequate, 

but the best the people at the time could do.  As the centuries progressed, this 

temple was enlarged and refurbished, but it never approached the magnificence 

of the Temple of that Solomon built.  In the year 26 B.C. Herod decided to restore 

the Temple to the Glory of Solomon’s Day.  The work had just been completed 

when Jesus’s disciples looked on amazed at the precious stones and votive 

offerings.

 

            Jesus heard them  and said, “This really doesn’t matter.” It is all going to 

come to a ruin anyway.  In fact within forty years the Romans would put down 

the Jewish Barsabbus revolt, and, to break the spirit of the zealot rebels,  would completely destroy the temple leaving nothing but what we now call the Wailing 

Wall still standing.

 

            Jesus prophesied that the Temple would be demolished.  He then goes on 

to say that the whole world will be destroyed.  He says that natural disasters, earthquakes and hurricanes, and political turmoil demonstrate that the world is 

coming to an end.  At the same time he says that when you see these things, know 

that the end is still in the future.  Jesus  says that there will be many claiming that 

the end is at hand.  In fact,  every few years someone pops up with proof that the 

world is going to end at a specific time.  Remember what Jesus says: "Ignore them." 

In the same way we should ignore the Jim Jones, Charles Mansons and other 

assorted wackos who claim, that they have the inner knowledge of when the end 

of the world is coming and who even have the audacity to claim "I am he."  I am tempted to suggest that all those who wish to join the Armageddon Club are 

welcome to leave the deeds to houses off at the Parish Office since they won’t 

be needing them any more.

 

            Jesus is adamant that we Christians are not to get flustered, distraught, or 

full of anxiety.  These feelings are reserved for those who refuse to commit their 

lives to the Kingdom of God.  What we need to do is to give witness to Christ, particularly in the face of persecution.  The Lord was not just addressing the 

early Christians when he said that you will be delivered up to those who will 

murder you for being faithful.  He was also talking to Archbishop Oscar Romero, 

Jane Donovan and the Maryknoll sisters and the six Jesuits who were all murdered

in El Salvador for demanding that the poor be treated with respect.  He was talking 

to Maximilian Kolbe and all those put to death by Nazis, Communists and Fascists during this blood stained century.  He was talking to all those throughout the ages 

who were persecuted for living their faith. And he was talking to everyone of us who 

is mocked for hanging on to what the media presents as a dated morality.  He was talking to all of us who fight for traditional family values and responsibility over the forces that deify self-gratification.  All of these people, from the martyrs of the past 

to those living in your house,  may be put to death, or at least commit social suicide 

for their Christian witness, but patient endurance will save their lives.

 

            Patient endurance will save our lives.  That phrase, "patient endurance" is 

the New Testament catch word for martyrdom.  By patient endurance we will be 

saved.  By becoming martyrs we will be saved.  We Christians are called to 

martyrdom.

 

            That is the truly frightening part of today's Gospel.  We must become martyrs 

to be saved. 

 

            Affirming our Christianity demands suffering.  In some ways all Christians experience this.  Perhaps you tell your 19 year old daughter that it is not right for 

her to move in with Beaufort, and you get treated with scorn for having such 

"archaic morals".   Or perhaps you don't accept a position that can help your 

family financially because it would cut too deeply into family time.  The character 

next door ignores his family, then buys a boat.  His children tell yours about the 

great time they had water skiing.  The world and those who live by its values may appear to be winning.  But their victories are hallow, their lives are shallow. 

Through patient endurance of all this and more, you are saving your life. The 

Temple that was built in Jerusalem might be destroyed, but the Temple that is 

the Life of Christ within us will never be destroyed.

 

            In the sixth chapter of the Book of Revelation the Book of God's plan for mankind is brought forward, sealed with seven seals.  When the fifth seal is 

opened the voice of the martyrs cries out from their place underneath the altar, 

the place where the blood of sacrificial animals was caught.  "How Long, O Lord, 

How Long?” they shriek.  Our pleas join theirs. “How long, O Lord, how long do we have to keep on suffering while evil doers prosper? When will the world see the purpose of our suffering?  When will we be vindicated?  Lord, I'm trying my best 

and I don't seem to be getting anything but ridicule.  How about that guy next door 

who never puts you first yet keeps advancing in the world? He makes me look like 

a fool.  When are you going to come to show the world why I suffered?”  

 

            And the voice of the Lord rings out: “In a little while, a little while longer.  But 

first more need to be added to your number.  I am waiting for more people to give witness.”

 

            Today's gospel is indeed frightening.  But It is not frightening for the reason some fundamentalists would give: the fear of the end. It is frightening because 

Jesus demands that we give witness, become martyrs, if we want to be saved. 

 

            It is frightening because the Lord demands that we stand up for him, his kingdom and the Christian way of life in a materialistic, self-centered world. 

 

            It is frightening because it demands that we accept grief from those who 

mock us. 

 

            It is frightening because it proclaims that only by patient endurance can we 

be saved.

 

            This is the challenge of  Christianity.    We conclude this Church year 

praying for the grace to endure patiently any trials that are essential to our 

affirmation of Jesus Christ.