my miscellany

Pentecost 23, 2022 — 13 Nov 22

Pentecost 23, 2022

Tissot, James, 1836-1902. Prophecy of the Destruction of the Temple, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57226 [retrieved November 10, 2022]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Prophecy_of_the_Destruction_of_the_Temple_(La_pr%C3%A9dication_de_la_ruine_du_Temple)_-_James_Tissot.jpg.

RCL Year C, Proper 28 (Alternate Readings)
Malachi 4:1-2a, Psalm 98, II Thessalonians 3:6-13, Saint Luke 21:5-19

The Lesson from Malachi and the Gospel give us timely examples of apocalyptic. Apocalyptic is a literary mode, like tragedy, or comedy, or satire. It can be the mode of many literary genres, like prophecy, or history, or poetry; each of these is a literary genre that may be found in the Holy Scriptures. Apocalypse comes from a Greek word meaning revelation or unveiling. The Book of Revelation is also known as The Apocalypse. Apocalyptic passages in the Scriptures usually reveal or unveil the end of time.

Malachi prophesies the end of time, calling it a Day. Often it is called the Day of the Lord. In our Lesson, Malachi sees this Day as the time of punishment distributed to the arrogant and the evil. They will be burned up in the Lord’s oven. But on that same Day, Malachi says, the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings, upon those who revere the name of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is a Day of Judgment. The bad will be punished; the good will be rewarded.

In the Gospel Jesus prophesies the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem when not one stone will be left on another. He says the Temple’s destruction will be preceded by false prophets, wars, insurrections, famines, plagues, and great signs in heaven. Before these things, the disciples will be handed over to synagogues, prisons, and persecutions. Jesus tells them that they are to defend themselves with words that Jesus will give them at that time. By persevering, the disciples “will gain [their] souls.[1]

Historically, Pompey the Great destroyed the Temple in 70 AD in quelling the Jews’ revolt against Rome. Saint Luke could look back on this event in the writing of his Gospel.

We understand that the destruction of the Temple as a revealing of the coming end of time, marked by the Second Coming of Christ to “judge the living and the dead,”[2] as we say in the Apostles’ Creed, the creed of the Covenant we make in our Baptism. Symbolically, we reach the end of time when we reach the end of the Church Year, which we do next Sunday, the Last Sunday after Pentecost.

As long as we live, we live one Church Year after another Church Year, over and over again, for all our lives. Day by day throughout the years, in Scripture and in Prayer, we remind ourselves of the fullness of God’s revelation to us.

The Gospel on which the Church stands is the Good News that Christ has died for sinners, Christ is risen from the grave for sinners, and Christ, now reigning in glory, will come again to save sinners. Christ’s glorious return, his Apocalypse, is also a present, strengthening reality that comforts us sinners during our trials and struggles, and feeds us as we make our way as pilgrims through life working out our own salvation. For we are headed for Christ, each one of us. If we are his disciples, every day of our short and uncertain lives takes us a little more deeply into the mystery of Christ and brings us that much closer to completion and fulfillment.

The time we have, we should use wisely. The Church, as part of its mission, is here to help. As our feet stand upon the earth, they stand right at the edge of eternity.

[1] Saint Luke 21:19.

[2] “The Apostles’ Creed” in The BCP (1979), pages 304-305.

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