Trustworthy Prophet: Luke 21 & Malachi
#TrustworthyProphet is the Podcast for November 13, 2016. When Michael Moore predicted that Donald Trump would win three weeks before the election, no one took him seriously. He was a prophet. Jesus predicted something in our Gospel that was even more amazing. It came true and gives us an insight into how we can trust him. Listen to this podcast to find out.: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Pharisees #Widow #DonaldTrump #MichaelMoore #Prophet #Priest #Savior #Trust #Trustworthy #Luke21
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For Listener Supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/13/2016 The 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Malachi 3:16-4:2; Luke 20:45-21:19
When I became the President of a Little League, I was told that the best two days of my term would be the day I was elected President and the last day I was President. The same is true, I think of becoming a Christian or beginning to make Jesus the priority in your life in your Christian walk.
Those who would be reading the Gospel of Luke when it was first written, anywhere between 80-100 A.D., they would have been struck at Jesus’ prediction of history. In A.D. 70, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome. The Romans were not going to have any more “insurrections” with the Temple as the center of resistance to Roman rule. So, Luke is writing about what Jesus had to say about the Temple to people whose political and religious existence had just ten years before been destroyed.
Imagine your amazement at reading something that was written three weeks before Donald Trump was elected that said that he was going to take Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin in the election. Even Fox News was hedging their bets going into Tuesday. So, on Wednesday, I saw where, of all people, Michael Moore, the liberal documentarian, predicted that Trump would take all of those states about three weeks before the election. What a prophet! I thought.
That kind of amazement is exactly what is going on here with Luke. The story of the destruction of the Temple as Luke places it cements Jesus as one who knows the future. He is able to tell us what is to come. He is a prophet from the Lord. He is a prophet who is also placed in a first century scenario of a philosopher. Jewish philosophers used to meet in the Temple to discuss Jewish philosophy. So, here is Jesus telling us prophetically and philosophically what is going to happen and it is not popular.
Jesus was telling the leaders that they have their priorities all wrong exemplified by the widow. The leaders put their hope in a political kingdom that expressed itself in power and wealth. The widow offers a lot of money for someone who is poor as a statement of faith. It is not a matter of utility. She is not giving because she wants to keep the door of the Temple open. That means nothing to her according to Jesus, who knows all hearts. She gave because of her deep and abiding love for God. Her reality is not in her poverty, it is in the abundance of the Kingdom of God. She lives in God’s kingdom where she is treasured and valued no matter what she has.
To bolster that contrast, Jesus sits in the very center of Jewish political power and religious authority, which was built out of huge stones as a sign of that power and authority. He sits in this place of power and says, “This is fleeting. This is not where you should place your hope and your trust.” Sure, Christians are to participate in the government and respect the government no matter what, but it is not where we are to put our hope.
When you become the President of the Little League, you are to make sure that children are taught fairness and justice. It means that you have to say no a lot. You even have to discipline adults who do not behave well or follow the rules. It is a thankless existence. You have to be faithful to the Little League code.
So, too, is the existence of the Christian in the world today. We believe a lot of things that are against what the world believes. In fact, when we talk with the world about what we believe, we often have to come up with a utilitarian reason we believe it so they can even understand. We believe in marriage first and then children. We say it is to protect the child, but really it is because we believe it is a representation of God’s love pouring forth through the body, just like the Incarnation, born of the virgin who was betrothed to a righteous man. I am sure that we all know people in our lives that had a baby, bought a home with a mortgage, have to arrange all kinds of things to make sure they are covered by insurance, etc., but when you mention marriage-they are scandalized. Marriage is just something to trap them into old ways of customary existence. Sure, if everything we do ONLY has a meaning out of anthropology, then they might be right.
We know, like the widow, that all life is sacramental. We live spiritual truths through our bodies. What you do with your body, you do with your soul. The widow knows, even more than the leaders, that the true offering is that she withholds nothing from God. For us, marriage is more than just a contract. It represents a spiritual reality of how Jesus related to the Church and how the Trinity acted in one to create the universe.
When you are constantly looking at the deeper meaning of your existence, you tend to reject the immediate, utilitarian, and expedient reasons for living. Life is more than just being self-satisfied on this earth. It does not exclude being self-satisfied, but it is so much more, even to the point of rejecting our own self-satisfaction. There is one greater than all this to whom our lives point as a living sacrament.
So, Jesus, once again, is sticking his finger in the eye of the leaders by pointing out their hypocrisy and their false hope in the things of this world. Luke’s arrangement of these passages and his quotes from Jesus tell us one message: in the midst of hard or turbulent times, you can trust and put your faith in the prophet and philosopher who is also the Savior of your souls.
I am reminded of the missionaries who wandered the Midwest in the 1600s. They were the best. They lived among the Native Americans, respected the way of life of the Native Americans, and respectfully lived their faith without temples. Isaac Jogues and Jacque Brebeuf lived among the Native Americans, with just their vessels and altar stones. They practiced a faith that did not have Temples, Basilicas, Cathedrals, or Church buildings. They were misunderstood. They were reviled. They were killed. Yet, their journals point to a faith that understood that this life is meant to be lived in testimony to who Jesus is: the prophet, priest, king, philosopher, and Savior.
No matter who you are, what station of life you live, your life has meaning when lived through faith in Jesus Christ. No matter how low you are, how excited you are, how rich you are, how poor you are, your life has meaning because you actions testify to the truth that there is a living God, who doesn’t need luxury, or Temples that are grand. He needs nothing, but desires, wants, even craves, us to love Him because he loves us. He desires, wants, even craves, that we love one another because He loves each of us.
Because of these truths that we live out in our daily lives, we can even rejoice at our sufferings, as James tells us in his first chapter. Our suffering can point to a higher calling. Our victories can point to the One who even knew the Temple would be destroyed to the amazement of Luke’s readers. We should be amazed, too. It should bolster our faith. So, what should we make of this for us today?
Well, we should think, trust, and act on this, “as the widow, as the one with faith in uncertain times, go I.” 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, 2016.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian