The Gospel of Luke (21:5-11) describes a scene when many people had gathered near the Jerusalem Temple, and were admiring its grand beauty. Jesus uses the moment to prophesy about the future destruction of the temple, when “there will not be left a stone upon another stone….” (NAB, LK 21:5) He then goes on to describe what is to be expected before the end, when the final judgment comes. Revelation adds light to when this will happen and describes the occasion of that final gathering of the faithful as when “the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.” (RV 14:15) Jesus provides an incredible and terrifying list of signaling events: wars, famines, destruction, plagues, insurrections, and a host of natural disasters.
Knowing all this is to come, however, Jesus lovingly reminds us, “Do not be terrified.” (21:9) It is a constant theme in Scripture: “Do not be afraid.” Various biblical translators indicate that the phrase “do not be afraid,” or some rendition or form of it, occurs about 365 times in the Bible! Perhaps God wanted to give us a daily reminder to not fear the things of this world, to remember that we belong to a family and a Kingdom that will never die and will never end. It seems reasonable for us to be fearful when the world is in such turmoil, with violence, injustice, and death at every corner, but we have a surpassing force in Jesus Christ that is greater than any power, principality, authority, or dominion on earth.
Father, strengthen my faith in your Son, Jesus Christ. Give me the power and light of your Holy Spirit to see beyond the darkness of this world, to know that you are always here, that you are always in control, and that you always love me with an incomprehensible love, a love through which only an infinitely merciful and just God can overcome the evils of this world. Amen.