Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Daniel 2:31-45; Luke 21:5-11)
In “Ozymandias” Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley tells a tale like Jesus’ in today’s gospel. “Ozymandias” is the Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. The discovery of a statue of the king in the desert occasions the poem. Shelley writes that the inscription on the statue’s base commands the resignation of viewers. “’Look on my works…’” it reads, ‘”and despair!'” The sad truth is, however, that the statue itself lies shattered in the sand.
Jesus gives the people marveling at the grandeur of the temple a similar lesson. He foresees the temple’s destruction which indeed took place forty years hence. He is saying that even this grand tribute to God lacks ultimate importance. In fact, he would say, everything material will be come to ruin. Only discipleship of himself remains with lasting value. But even at that, he continues, people have to take care that they do not follow false messiahs.
Lay person or consecrated religious, we must not become distracted by material objects. Cars, houses, and large expense accounts must not turn us away from following Jesus. Neither should ideologies lead us from the truth that Jesus teaches. If we want eternal life, we must follow his way of self-giving love.