By Deacon Faiva Po’oi
In the first reading, Malachi tells of horrible destruction, but it’s for the enemies of the Lord, not those who “fear his name.” This appears to run in contrast to what Jesus is telling his disciples in the gospel that they themselves will experience persecution. However, both Malachi and Jesus are seeing the picture and the long game. The Israelites in Malachi’s are experiencing horrible physical destruction, but Malachi puts their sights on the Lord and the “son of justice.” Jesus tells his disciples that they may lose their lives, but, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives."
How many times do we endure something hard, because we know a benefit lies at the end of the struggle? A challenging year of school, a hard workout, a difficult conversation with a spouse? Our species has evolved to avoid pain, as any animal, and yet as creatures made in the image and likeness of God, we have the ability to choose to endure harder way because we can perceive the benefit of going through them.
The Gospel begins with entering a temple and some of Jesus’ disciples pointing out how lovely it is inside. Jesus uses this moment to caution everyone that what is coming isn’t an easy life, “adorned with costly stones and votive offerings.” Jesus tells them that destruction is coming and those who follow him will be persecuted. Understandably worried, they ask when it will happen and how they will know it’s going to happen. Jesus responds in an eschatological way referencing the ending of the world—probably not what his disciples were expecting on a routine trip to the local temple. No matter where he is in his ministry, Jesus maintains a clear-eye view the future and wants his disciples to know the weight of what he’s asking of them.
Today's Psalm is forward-looking anticipating the Lord coming to rule with justice. Though the Lord is with us always—guiding, and accompanying us on earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and active in the person of the Holy Spirit—we are still moving steadily toward the New Jerusalem. This Psalm reminds us that, regardless of the evil and destruction in the world today, “He will rule the world with justice and the people with equity.” This reading comes from what is often referred to as ”Lukan eschatological discourse,” where we see not only what the end of time might look like, but more importantly, what it reveals about God and our relationship with God. Jesus’ command is so significant because it offers an essential disposition to each of us: “Do not be terrified.” Do not be afraid.