Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Revelation 18:1-2.21-23.19:1-3a.9; Luke 21:20-28)
The other day a man entered a religious goods store and committed horrible crimes. He sexually violated two women and killed one of them. The barbarism resembles the happenings which Jesus foresees in today’s gospel. He says that lawlessness and destruction will take place everywhere at the end of time.
In all likelihood the evangelist Luke embellished the prediction of Jesus with accounts of actual events. Just before he wrote his gospel Roman troops decimated Jerusalem. They not only destroyed the Temple beyond hope of rebuilding but evidently ravaged the people. Such marauding is typical of foreign soldiers sent to punish a nation. It is no wonder then that the first reading describes God’s the downfall of Rome in such graphic terms. “Babylon” is code word for Rome since both were associated with extravagant hedonism. According to the reading, Rome is completely devastated. It is as if an earthquake swallowed up the city.
Both Luke and the author of Revelation mean to encourage Christians to live righteous lives. They see Jesus as coming to save his people when the situation becomes most desperate. He will recognize them by their courage to stand erect in hope of being rescued. The righteousness and courage which the Scriptures bespeak include efforts to build a society of justice. We will not be able to eliminate all crime and misfortune in the world. But guided by the gospel and with the help of the Holy Spirit we can approximate the peace of the Kingdom of God.