Change is Gonna Come
#ChangeIsGonnaCome is the podcast for November 18, 2018. The annual “Destroy this Temple” has arrived. There is much comfort in these words of Jesus in this world of uncertainty. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Mark13 #Mark #ColoradoState #Angamuco #EndTimes #Apocalypes #SpiritEverLasting
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/15/2018 The 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 13:1-8, 24-32
On February 19, 2018, Smithsonian.com reported about the great find of Dr. Chris Fisher of Colorado State. Dr. Fisher is an archeologist who explores lost cities in Mexico and Central/South America. Using a technique called “light detection ranging” or LiDAR, basically using lasers to discover the foundations of buildings that are under the earth and rugged terrain, Dr. Fisher discovered a city that had, at its peak, as many buildings as Manhattan. That is, Manhattan, NY, not Manhattan, KS.
Angamuco was a city in West Mexico that was built by an adversary of the Aztecs. It is 10 miles square, has 8 zones with pyramids, gardens, ball courts, roads, and many other amenities. They believe it was populated by over 100,000 people in its prime between 1350 and 1000 B.C. All that remains are the archeological digs of the day.
I imagine that the people of Angamuco thought their city would last forever. We do not know what happened that Angamuco ceased to exist. We know what happened in Italy with the volcanic Mt. Vesuvius eliminating the city of Pompeii in one volcanic blast. But we have no idea what happened to Angamuco, yet. One day it was there, the next it was left to be overgrown only to be discovered by laser technology in 2014.
Similarly, the people in A.D. 70 did not anticipate that their Temple in Jerusalem would be torn down. As Jesus and his disciples marvel in Mark 13, we know the Temple was massive, with very large stones and pillars. It was impressive. Only part of the massive Wailing Wall remains to this day of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
In its prime, the Temple was the center of sacrifice. People travelled from all over the world to come to the center of sacrifice, to make their amends and express their gratitude to God. As Jesus “sat opposite the Temple” as Mark tells us, he also sat opposite to the large donors in favor of the widow and her two lepta. He sat opposite the hypocrisy of the scribes, Pharisees, and Leaders of the Temple. He sat opposite the money changers who made the Temple into a place to make a profit. He sat opposite the long robes and outward pretenses of religious practice.
What Jesus knows, is that a massive change is going to be continued through his momentous death and resurrection. No longer would sacrifice have to be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. A one time Eternal Sacrifice of the God man would be made for all the sins of the world. No longer would we have to bring doves, goats, lambs, and other animals to the Temple for our sacrifice. God was about to send out his Sacrifice for the World to the world. Now, we revisit that one sacrifice in the taking, blessing, breaking, and giving of the Bread and Cup, the Body, the Blood, the Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We no longer bring the sacrifice to God only in Jerusalem, we return to the Sacrifice all over the world.
The curtain in the Holy of Holies, where God met the High Priest would be torn in two because the Lord would bring his holiness to humanity in the power of the Holy Spirit. He will descend on us in Baptism, in Confirmation, in the Eucharist, and in prayer. Rather than everyone coming to Jerusalem to meet God, God would send his apostles to the world to meet humanity in the four corners of the world.
Once again, though, enter the disciples in the story. They want to know when the Temple is going to be knocked down and destroyed. They marvel at the magnificence of the structure, their Angamuco. They want to know when this was going to happen. Once again, most scholars do not believe this is just casual interest. It is a request to get the skinny on the end times so that they can build their bunkers, get their dehydrated food, purchase their generators, their ammunition, and put a sign all around their property: trespassers will be shot.
This is not the goal. If we read on, we can see, that Jesus says specifically that the one way to tell false prophets is that they will claim to know the time.
This passage in the Gospel of Mark is called “The Little Apocalypse”. In this passage, through signs, visions, etc., what Jesus is claiming is not a small thing at all. He is claiming that he is the Messiah, the completion of the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures. That is a huge change in perspective. Before one stone falls, the Temple will be destroyed. No sacrificial system of animals will be needed now that the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world has been sacrificed for sins, once, for all, for all times.
As we can see from the reaction to the crucifixion of Jesus by his disciples, when the center of your life is destroyed, killed, lost, the natural reaction of people is “every person for themselves,” either by retreating inward, or running away. We usually skip talking about this uncomfortable part of loss. We need to remember that the experience of the disciples is similar to our experience of job loss, a spouse or central family member dying, a stock market crash, the loss of retirement savings, and more. All of these things we know we can expect, but when they happen, we feel like they should not happen.
Much like the people of Angamuco, we probably thought that our lives were like cities that would not be forgotten under the vines of a jungle, the rough over grown terrain of a mountain. Yet, the irony is that all these monuments we build to our ability to build as humans will erode, fade, die, if we are not vigilant in their upkeep. They could be flooded, like we saw over the last two months. They could catch on fire like we have witnessed in California over the last week. They could be challenged like our democracy and alliances are being challenged right now.
The truth is that none of these things last forever. It just takes one event, one natural disaster, one person with a different view of how things should be, one death for everything to change.
Jesus will die. He is the Temple for us. He will die. When he does, there will be a period in between. Will we remember that he told us he would rise again? Or, will we scatter, thinking we were fools and all is lost. Whatever our reaction, we will find out if we are the ones who deny him three times or the ones who take his body down from the cross and prepare it with love. Will we be the ones who stay in death, or the ones who live the resurrection? Will we be the ones who mourn over and over the loss of our material wealth, our status, our privilege, or will we be the ones who know that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the Lord.
Being a Christian is not an escape. It is not kingdom building that worships buildings as monuments to how great our community is or was. It is kingdom building one person at a time. It is kingdom building that knows our Lord walks with us to our own personal crosses. He is with us in our own personal time between the Crucifixion and Resurrection. He is with us as the only thing that truly lasts and is consistent: God never leaves. He never stops coming to us. He never stops whispering to us. He never stops loving us.
Isn’t it something that we work so hard to build that which will not last, when in reality it is the spiritual that lasts: it has no decay. Where ought we to put our energies? On divining Armageddon and building bunkers, or trusting that Jesus will come when the time is ready, not before, and knowing that until then, we will prepare ourselves by not trusting in those things which the moth and rust attack. We will prepare by drawing closer to Jesus Christ who will lead us to the renewed heaven and the renewed earth.
Change, it’s gonna come. Jesus lasts forever. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian