Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Luke 21:5–19
I have to have a difficult conversation. Not only that, I need to have this difficult conversation with someone that I’ve had a complicated history with. So, I’m doing what all good Catholic women do when faced with this situation.
And then I’m confessing it—again and again.
This week, the same priest that I’ve been confessing this particular challenge to simply looked at me and said, “You have to trust that God will give you the right words to say and surrender this situation, this person over to Him.”
But do I trust Him?
Jesus is asking His friends the same question in this Sunday’s gospel reading.
Jesus and His disciples are in the city of Jerusalem for the Passover feast, and while in the Temple, people around Jesus are gazing with wonder and commenting on its splendor and beauty. The Temple in Jerusalem was an incredible sight to behold—immense and seemingly indestructible. The pillars and columns of white marble stood forty feet high. It was noted that the outward face of the Temple was covered with great plates of solid gold, and at the rising of the sun, people would have to turn their eyes away from the fiery splendor and brilliant reflection; it was as if they were looking at the sun itself.
Instead of agreeing with the statements of the Temple’s glory, Jesus foretells the total annihilation and destruction of this massive structure. “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” (Luke 21:6).
This revelation leads Jesus’ disciples to stop Him and quite rightly ask for specifics. They want to know what the warning signs are going to be.
He warns of false prophets. He foretells wars between nations and natural disasters such as earthquakes, famine, and pestilence. But wait, He’s not done. He continues with foretelling of their own persecution, imprisonment, and even death. He warns them they will be brought before governments and kings and betrayed by their own family and friends—all because they love and follow Him.
It is not the happiest of pictures that Jesus is painting for the future.
Spoiler alert: Jesus’ prophecies did come to pass. Jerusalem fell to the Roman army in 70 A.D., and the Temple was set afire and destroyed. The Jewish nation was obliterated, and more than one million people were scattered throughout the region. There was a devastating earthquake that destroyed Laodicea (modern day Turkey) in 60 A.D., and there was a horrific famine that ravaged Rome 20 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. And we know that many of the disciples and early Christians were imprisoned, persecuted, and executed because they refused to disavow their belief in Jesus as the Messiah.
Yet, it’s these words to His disciples amidst this prophecy that truly resonate:
“Do not be terrified” (Luke 21:9).
“You are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself will give you wisdom in speaking” (Luke 21:14–15).
“By your perseverance you will secure your lives” (Luke 21:19).
Jesus didn’t want the disciples’ focus to stop at the suffering that was to come. Instead He desired that they focus on Him and His promises. He did not want them to be fearful and anxious. His desire was for them to be bold and stand firm when facing their trials. He wanted them to see their trials as opportunities to point others to Him—to share their witness and testimony of His message of love, forgiveness, and mercy. Faced with devastation, loss of life, betrayal, and suffering, Jesus is exhorting His followers to trust Him, to focus on Him, to surrender their words, minds, and very lives to Him.
How did Jesus know that our human heart, our human mind would succumb to fear, anxiety, and worry amidst suffering and hardship?
Jesus knew because He was human, too. “The Son of God…worked with human hands; He thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart He loved.” He faced very real suffering, fear, worry, sorrow, and death. The name of Jesus, “Emmanuel,” means “God with us.” The Incarnation did not happen on a whim. God became man so that He could be with us through it all. He knew we would need a Savior. He knew that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
He is not some strange and distant being. He is the One who formed you and knows you (Psalm 139:13–14). And in turn, He longs for us to know Him and to trust Him with our past, our present, and our future, with the good, the bad, and (especially when it’s humid) the ugly.
Jesus urges you, just as He did with His disciples, to boldly trust Him, to surrender to Him, and to rely on Him. He knows that we cannot bear all of this alone.
If you could glimpse into your future, my guess is that it wouldn’t consist of all rainbows and sunshine. There will be petty concerns to be sure, day-to-day trials. And there will be devastating challenges. Can you trust that the Creator of the universe, the One through which all things came to be (John 1:10), who holds the world together (Colossians 1:17), and who breathed life into you (Genesis 2:7), desires to stand there alongside you through it all?
He can see into the future of the universe, dear sister. I assure you He can see into the depths of your heart. And He longs to meet you there, to embolden and strengthen you, to forgive you and comfort you, and to stand with you.
Do you trust Him?
Food for thought or journaling…
How is your heart today? Is there something you are holding back from placing at the foot of the cross and surrendering it to Jesus? Or have you placed something there only to pick it back up again?
Look into Jesus’ eyes on the cross, empty your heart of what you are holding onto, and pray these simple words: Jesus, I trust in You.
 William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017), 306.
 Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, 305.
John Bartunek, The Better Part: The Gospel of Luke (Manchester, NY: Sophia Institute Press, 2020), 309.
Paul VI.Gaudium et Spes. December 7, 1965. Papal Archive. The Holy See. <http://https://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html>.