“Being on the guard” is basic requirement in every sphere of human life! The Gospel of the day presents this message of being vigilant and alert in our lives. Jesus is on the courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple and He hears “some people speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings” (Lk 21:5). The Jerusalem Temple was a magnificent building and one of the wonders of those days. The Temple had just been marvelously rebuilt by Herod the Great. In all its beauty, the Jerusalem Temple was a vast glittering mass of white marble, touched here and there with gold and precious stones. “Whosoever had not gazed on it”, said the old rabbis, “had not seen the perfection of beauty.” Tacitus, the historian, called this spectacular edifice as “a temple of vast wealth.“ Precious gifts such as crowns, shields, vessels of gold and silver were presented by princes and others who visited the holy house.
With such a grand spectacle and gorgeous building in the background, Jesus makes a prophetic saying, “All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Lk 21:6). These words would have come as a big shocker and a tantalizing scandal to His listeners. To think of the Jerusalem Temple being totally destroyed was a case next to impossible. The Jerusalem Temple was the holiest shrine of the Jews. It was the pulse and the heartbeat of the Jewish faith. It was the greatest source of joy and pride for the Jews. Any attack or any destruction of this great edifice of faith was unimaginable and intolerable. We know how Jeremiah was persecuted because he spoke against the Temple (Jer. 7 gives an account of the vain hope the people placed on the Temple).
Yet, Jesus makes this powerful and daring prophecy. What is the structure and edifice of joy and pride in our lives? Is it just a structure of fat bank-balances and transient fame and popularity? Is it just a structure of remarkable public positions and offices of high ranking? Is it just a structure of enjoying life with temporary pleasures and passing addictions? All too often we have heard people saying: “I have enough money and I am happy with my life!Just enjoy today to the max. Who knows what happens tomorrow?” “The status that I am in today, is a result of my hard-work and labour. Why should anyone interfere in my private life and prevent me from enjoying it in my own style?”
History teaches us that structures built without the power and grace of God is bound to fall. The Tower of Babel is a classic example from the Bible. (Gen 11: 4-9). Built on human pride and aspiration, it had a catastrophic collapse. The lives of many people are also a lesson for us; Samson… King Saul… King Solomon… Judas. They had their moments of great glory and splendour. But when pride and self-interest crept into their lives, they let go of the touch of God’s hand!
We may glory and shine in beauty for some time by just banking on our capabilities. But unless, we remain in firm obedience and faithful commitment to the Lord, we are bound to fail! An obstinate stand that I can manage my life by myself is hazardous. A proud feeling that no power in the world can shake me is dangerous. An arrogant outlook that I am the sole master of my future and destiny is perilous. Let God be God in our lives. Let Him enthrone the highest place and the privileged position in our lives. May Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords adorn the Temple of our lives.