Luke 21:5-19 Reflection: Signs of the End Times

A reading from the gospel according to Luke 21:5-19

5 While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said,
6 “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.”
7 Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
8 He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!
9 When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.”
10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
11 There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
12 “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.
13 It will lead to your giving testimony.
14 Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
15 for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
16 You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends and they will put some of you to death.
17 You will be hated by all because of my name,
18 but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
19 By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”

Reflection: God is still in control.

Before we reflect on the gospel reading above, we must first look at the previous verses to see any connection. In Luke 21:1-4, Jesus spoke about His observation regarding how the rich and the widow gave their offering in the temple. Then in the next verses which is our gospel reading above, Jesus noticed how people where fascinated with the magnificence of the temple. Then He tried to shift the people’s attention from the building, which is a temporary thing, to God’s providence. The temple building, no matter how magnificent it is, can be and will be destroyed but not the word of God.

Let us also be reminded that Luke’s gospel was written after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 BCE. This is very significant to understanding whether or not the above passage is a “prediction” of the end of times. With this backdrop, let us then focus our reflection on the message of hope instead of dwelling with how the end of this present world would happen.

Jesus is warning us that the life of a disciple is not a “bed of roses”. He enumerated some examples of problems such as the coming of false prophets, wars and insurrections, calamities like earthquakes, famines, and plagues, and persecutions and hatred. Amidst all of these, He is assuring and reassuring us that God is still in control and that we should never be terrified. Instead we should persevere because God is protecting us so that not a hair on our head will be destroyed (verse 18). There is absolutely no need to worry about anything. We just have to trust in God!

Nowadays, we hear a lot of people, some of them religious leaders, proclaiming that the end of the world is near because the signs as “predicted” in this gospel reading are everywhere. Jesus is telling us not to be deceived. Nobody really knows when the end happens (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32). Calamities come and go and the end of time may happen now or in the distant future. That is why we should always be ready for it by doing what we are suppose to do like taking care of widows and the other vulnerable sectors of society.

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