33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): God With Us
(Adults, you could begin by reading the scripture to your child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection, turn to scripture, and then continue with the reflection.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus speaks about some upsetting things. He knows that the world is not perfect. He knows that bad things happen. What does he want us to know about these things?
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
The people are talking about the beautiful Temple built for God. We know they do not have construction vehicles and power equipment to help them build the Temple. We know it must have taken a very long time to build. How much work went into building it! How much love the people have for God!
And Jesus tells them it will all be torn down. What will they think of this?!
They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”
This seems to be a strange response of the people. We might expect them to gasp in shock. What??? Our first question might not be "When?" but instead, "WHY??"
Jesus does not tell them when this will take place. "When" is not important.
Instead, Jesus tells them why.
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues
Why will the Temple be destroyed? Because terrible things happen.
Jesus knows that the world is not yet as it should be. He knows that the Kingdom of God is not yet complete. But he also says,
When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”
The end will not follow these things, because these things are not of God. God is not the God of war and destruction. Terrible things happen, Jesus says, like the destruction of the Temple—and they are not Good News. They are not the end. There is still time—time to work with God to build the Kingdom.
We might wonder, though, where is God when terrible things happen? We hear Jesus say, "Do not be terrified." We remember that on the night that Jesus is born, when the shepherds are terrified, the angel of the Lord says to them,
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
This is the only sign we need.
God comes into the world as a tiny baby who knows what it feels like to want to be held close and loved. God is with us.
This is great joy. This is Good News.
God is with us—especially when terrible things happen. When things are torn down, when plans are destroyed, God is with us. When people fight and shout, when people hurt each other, God is with us. God chooses to be with us because God loves us. So we choose God, too.