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23rd Sunday after Pentecost - November 13, 2022

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of each heart be pleasing to you, O God, my strength and my Redeemer. +

Good morning.

Every June, the town of Metamora, Illinois, where I grew up, has a summer festival in the town square called Old Settlers Days. A parade, talent show, carnival rides, food tents, & musical acts as only a small town can do. One year, when I was a sophomore in high school in the mid-1970’s and hanging out with the Jesus hippie freaks, one of the local churches had a special movie presentation in the town library during Old Settlers Days. I took a break from the rides and games and went to watch the movie.

At the first reading of today’s gospel, I felt myself transported back to that night, once again sitting in the Metamora library watching that movie. The movie was titled “Left Behind”.

There on the big screen were false prophets, wars, famines, earthquakes, plagues, car crashes, buildings collapsing on people, wives and husbands embracing, parents and children hugging each other and one left screaming and crying when their loved one was taken up to heaven while they were left behind. Total destruction and nashing of teeth!

That movie scared me more than any roller coaster or carnival ride ever could.

I spent the next hour walking away from the square, away from the fun and frivolity, and I walked around town depressed and thinking and pleading with God.

“God, I want to play ball in college.

Please don’t let the world end until I get that chance.”

“God, I want to be a teacher someday.

Please don’t let the world end until I get that chance.”

“God, I’ve prayed the salvation prayer, so I know I am going to heaven.

Please don’t let my family and friends be left behind to experience this hell.”

Those thoughts and fears actually stayed with me for many years.


After my initial, triggered reaction to this scripture, I can tell you today that I think there is a different message and actually good news in today’s gospel.

So, let’s unpack it a bit.

First, verses such as this one in Luke are called apocalyptic scripture.

The original Greek-language word translated “apocalypse” translates most literally to “an uncovering”.

In the context of religious texts, like the Bible, the word is most often used in relation to a holy disclosure of information or knowledge, usually through some sort of prophetic dream or vision.

The knowledge in theses visions is typically related to either the end times or to insights into the truth of the divine.(

A second thing to know or remember is that this passage in Luke is describing the destruction of Jerusalem and its magnificent temple that occurred in the year 70 of the common era. And the gospel according to Luke was written approximately 20 years AFTER that destructive event. So, the author is using Jesus’ speech in Luke not as a prophesy of the end of the world, but is instead describing the end of Jerusalem and the temple as well as detailing the events of the lives of his followers thereafter.

The temple had been glorious. Now it is destroyed.

The followers of Jesus were arrested. They were persecuted. Handed over to synagogues and prisons. Brought before kings and governors. Betrayed by family and friends. Put to death.

So, what is the insight into the truth of the divine with all of this?