a biblical reflection, based on Mark 13.1-2, for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, November 15, 2015
One of Jesus’ disciples marvels at the magnificence of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus prophesies its destruction.
Why this stern response?
In its original time and place, Jesus’ stinging riposte, I think, was his way to explain and expand on his previous action of cleansing the Temple.
In that holy place, Jesus found money changers and sellers of pigeons. The coin of the Roman Empire, not acceptable for Temple offerings, had to be exchanged and the birds were needed for ritual sacrifices. However these necessary acts of commerce camouflaged the greed of overpricing and overcharging, fleecing the faithful who sought to satisfy their religious obligations. Jesus, outraged, drove the changers and sellers out.
Answering his disciple’s “Wow!” at the grandeur of the Temple, Jesus said, “Not one stone will be left upon another. All will be thrown down.” This is an awe-filled and awful word. When something no longer fulfills its purpose, it is set for ruin.
Jesus’ message also embraces an ageless truth, applicable in all times and places, expressed in the Latin phrase, sic transit gloria mundi, thus passes the glory of the world.
Nothing in this world endures forever. No building. Nobody.
Nevertheless, one aspect of the human quest, I believe, is the search for that which lasts. Relating to the inexorable deterioration of buildings, I think of Jesus’ comforting word, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places,” and regarding the inevitable decay of my body, I recall the Apostle Paul’s assurance, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
In the meantime, in my living, in my pilgrimage toward my eventual dying, my soul rests in the belief of the permanence, throughout all generations, of love and compassion, truth and beauty, goodness and kindness. And in my time in this life in this world, whene’er I see these things in others and in myself, there I behold the unmistakable presence and unmitigated power of the eternal.
Illustrations: Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple, Alexandre Bida (1874) and The Merchants Chased from the Temple (Les vendeurs chassés du Temple), James Tissot (1886-1894)
 In the year 70 of the Common Era, during the First Jewish-Roman War, the Roman army besieged and conquered Jerusalem, sacking the city and destroying the Second Temple (erected to succeed the First Temple, which had been built by King Solomon in 957 Before the Common Era and destroyed by the Babylonian army in 586 BCE).
 Mark 11.15-17
 John 14.2
 2 Corinthians 5.1