From the Parish House

There was a television advertisement a number of years ago in which a young boy fantasises about surviving an attack by a crocodile.  The ad was produced by HBA Insurance to attract new customers.  The young boy tells us that his ‘head went one way and his leg went the other’ and that the croc ‘ripped his guts out’.  Yet here he is laughing and smiling and very pleased with himself as a young healthy, happy little boy.  I think he was about three or four years old at the time.  The health insurer wanted us all to believe that no matter what life throws at us, everything will be fine if we are insured with them.  It was a very successful and popular advertisement.  I can still remember it vividly.

The art of using hyperbole and exaggeration is not a new one.  The Scriptures use this genre too.  In this weeks gospel (Luke 21:5-19), the text talks about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (which we know did take place around 70 A.D.).  In this text, Jesus predicts that the Temple will be destroyed and his disciples ask him what signs there will be that this will happen.  Luke relates Jesus’ response, ‘nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.’  The text continues with the prediction that the followers of Christ will be persecuted and put on trial.

The response to these events that the gospel calls for is to trust in God and to persevere in hope.  God will be the one who provides the words we cannot find.  God is the one who will provide the hope we may have lost.  God will be the one who will lead us into the future we cannot see.  God will be faithful to humanity.  God will break through into the clouds of darkness and shine forth for us to see.  The Son of Man will come ‘in a cloud with power and glory’, we are told (Luke 21:25).

The point of these apocalyptic texts is not to invite us into some escapist fantasy about the future.  Instead they provide commentary on the oppressive powers and regimes that we can encounter in the world.  These are to be rejected.  And in their place the gospel offers an alternative way of looking at the world, and living in the world, that is based on the Kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus.  They assure us that the ultimate plan of the God of life is to renew and transform the whole of the cosmos into God’s own.  Then there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to imagine a world where things can be different.  The gift of the Holy Spirit gives us, among other things, the wisdom and courage to act as if that new world were already here.  The final word in today’s gospel is an encouragement to ‘persevere in faith.’  We can let the God of life do the rest.

By Fr Brendan Reed


Parish Priest


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Mary Barbuto

Thanks Brendan, for making this difficult text relevant to our life today.

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