Navarre Commentary on Christ’s Teaching on the End Times…

The disciples are in awe of the magnificence of the Temple, and Jesus uses the occasion to give a long discourse, known as the “eschatological discourse” because it has to do with the last days of the world. The account given here is very similar to those in the other Synoptic Gospels (cf. Mt 24:1-51; Mk 13:1-37). The discourse deals with three inter-connected subjects — the destruction of Jerusalem (which took place some forty years later), the end of the world and the second coming of Christ in glory and majesty. Jesus, who also predicts here the persecution the Church will experience, exhorts his disciples to be patient, to pray and be watchful.

Our Lord speaks here in the style and language of prophecy, using images taken from the Old Testament; also, in this discourse prophecies which are going to be fulfilled very soon are mixed in with others which have to do with the end of the world. It is not our Lord’s intention to satisfy people’s curiosity about future events, but to protect them from being discouraged and scandalized about what is going to happen in the days immediately ahead. This explains why he exhorts them: “Take heed that you are not led astray” (v.8).; “do not be tempted” (v.9); “watch at all times” (v.34).

Prayer:  O my God I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. (Act of Faith)

Navarre Commentary on Christ’s Teaching on the End Times…

On hearing that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed, the disciples ask what sign will be given as a warning of these events (vv. 5-7). Jesus answers by telling them “not to be led astray,” that is to say, not to expect any warning; not to be misled by false prophets; to stay faithful to him. These false prophets will come along claiming to be the Messiah (“I am he!”). Our Lord’s reply in fact refers to two events, which in the Jewish mind were interrelated — the destruction of the Holy City and the end of the world. This is why he goes on to speak of both events and implies that there will be a long gap between the two; the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem are a kind of sign or symbol of the catastrophes which will mark the end of the world.9-11 Our Lord does not want his disciples to confuse just any catastrophe — famine, earthquake, war — or even persecution with the signals of the end of the world. He exhorts them quite clearly: “Do not be tempted”, because although all this has to happen, “the end will not be at once”; in spite of difficulties of all kinds the Gospel will spread to the ends of the earth. Difficulties should not paralysed the preaching of the faith.

Prayer:  Having risen from sleep I hasten to Thee, O Lord, Lover of men, and by Thy loving-kindness I strive to do Thy work, and I pray to Thee:  help me at all times, in everything, and deliver me from every evil thing of the world and every attack of the devil, and lead me into Thine eternal Kingdom. For Thou art my Creator, the Giver and Provider of everything good, and all my hope is in Thee, and to Thee I send up glory, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.  Amen.
*Prayer for the next day’s morning

Navarre Commentary on Christ’s Teaching on the End Times…

Jesus foretells all kinds of persecution. Persecution itself is something inevitable: “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). His disciples will have need to remember the Lord’s warning at the Last Supper: “‘A servant is not greater than his master’. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:20). However, these persecutions are part of God’s Providence: they happen because he lets them happen, which he does in order to draw greater good out of them. Persecution provides Christians with an opportunity to bear witness to Christ; without it the blood of martyrs would not adorn the Church. Moreover, our Lord promises to give special help to those who suffer persecution and he tells them not be afraid: he will give them of his own wisdom to enable them defend themselves, he will not permit a hair of their heads to perish, that is, even apparent misfortune and loss will be for them a beginning of heaven.

From Jesus’ words we can also deduce the obligation on every Christian to be ready to lose his life rather than offend God. Only those will attain salvation who persevere until the end in faithfulness to the Lord. The three Synoptic Gospels locate his exhortation to perseverance in this discourse (cf. Mt 24:13; Mk 13:13 and St Matthew gives it elsewhere (Mt 10:22) as does St Peter (1 Pet 5:9) — all of which underlines the importance for every Christian of this warning from our Lord.

Prayer:  Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
*Salve Regina

Navarre Commentary on Christ’s Teaching on the End Times…

20-24 Jesus gives quite a detailed prophecy of the destruction of the Holy City. When the Christians living there saw the armies getting closer, they remembered this prophecy and fled to Transjordan (cf. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, III, 5): Christ had advised them to flee as soon as possible because this is the time when God would punish Jerusalem for its sins, as the Old Testament predicted (Is 5:5-6).

Catholic tradition sees Israel as symbolizing the Church. In fact, in the book of Revelation the Church triumphant is called the heavenly Jerusalem (cf. Rev 21:2). Therefore, by applying this passage to the Church, the sufferings the Holy City experiences can symbolize the contradictions the pilgrim Church will experience due to the sins of men, for “she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 48).24 “The times of the Gentiles” means the period in which the Gentiles, who do not belong to the Jewish people, will become members of the new people of God, the Church, until the Jews themselves are converted at the end of the world (cf. Rom 11:11-32).

Prayer:  Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia: For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia, Has risen as He said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray : O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beg Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
*Regina Coeli

Navarre Commentary on Christ’s Teaching on the End Times…

25-26 Jesus refers to the dramatic changes in natural elements when the world is coming to an end. “The power of the heavens will be shaken,” that is to say, the whole universe will tremble at the Lord’s coming in power and glory.27-28 Applying to himself the prophecy of Daniel (7:13-14), our Lord speaks of his coming in glory at the end of time. Mankind will see the power and glory of the Son of man, coming to judge the living and the dead. Christ will deliver this judgment in his human capacity. Sacred Scripture describes the solemnity of this event, when the sentence passed on each person in the particular judgment will be confirmed, and God’s justice and mercy to men throughout history will shine cut for all to see. “It was necessary not only that rewards should await the just and punishments the wicked, in the life to come, but that they should be awarded by a public and general judgment. Thus they will become better known and will be rendered more conspicuous to all and a tribute of praise will be offered by all to the justice and Providence of God” (Catechism of the Council of Trent, I, 8, 4).

This coming of the Lord is, then, a day of terror for evildoers and of joy for those who have remained faithful. The disciples should hold their heads high because their redemption is at hand. It is the day they will receive their reward. The victory won by Christ on the Cross — victory over sin, over the devil and over death — will now be seen clearly, with all its implications. Therefore St Paul recommends that we be “awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:13).

Prayer:  The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.   And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death.

Navarre Commentary on Christ’s Teaching on the End Times…
“He [Christ] ascended into heaven whence he will come again to judge the living and the dead, each according to his merits. Those who have responded to the love and compassion of God will go into eternal life. Those who have refused them to the end will be consigned to the fire that is never extinguished” (Paul VI, Creed of the People of God, 12).31 The Kingdom of God, announced by John the Baptist (cf. Mt 3:2) and described by our Lord in so many parables (cf. Mt 13; Lk 13:18-20) is already present among the Apostles (Lk 17:20-21), but it is not yet fully manifest. Jesus here describes what it will be like when the Kingdom comes in all its fulness, and he invites us to pray for this very event in the Our Father: “Thy Kingdom come.” “The Kingdom of God, which had its beginnings here on earth in the Church of Christ, is not of this world, whose form is passing, and its authentic development cannot be measured by the progress of civilization, of science and of technology. The true growth of the Kingdom of God consists in an ever deepening knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ, in an ever stronger hope in eternal blessings, in an ever more fervent response to the love of God, and in an ever more generous acceptance of grace and holiness by men” (Creed of the People of God, 27). At the end of the world everything will be subjected to Christ and God will reign for ever more (cf. 1 Cor 15:24, 28).

Prayer:   Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that, we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.

Navarre Commentary on Christ’s Teaching on the End Times…

32 Everything referring to the destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled some forty years after our Lord’s death — which meant that Jesus’ contemporaries would be able to verify the truth of this prophecy. But the destruction of Jerusalem is a symbol of the end of the world; therefore, it can be said that the generation to which our Lord refers did see the end of the world, in a symbolic way. This verse can also be taken to refer to the generation of believers, i.e. not just the particular generation of those Jesus was addressing (cf. note on Mt 24:32-35).

The need for vigilance34-36 At the end of his discourse Jesus emphasizes that every Christian needs to be vigilant: we do not know the day nor the hour in which he will ask us to render an account of our lives. Therefore, we must at all times be trying to do God’s will, so that death, whenever it comes, will find us ready. For those who act in this way, sudden death never takes them by surprise. As St Paul recommends: “You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief” (1 Thess 5:4). Vigilance consists in making a constant effort not to be attached to the things of this world (the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life: cf. Jn 2:16) and in being assiduous in prayer, which keeps us close to God. If we live in this way, the day we die will be a day of joy and not of terror, for with God’s help our vigilance will mean that our souls are ready to receive the visit of the Lord, they are in the state of grace: in meeting Christ we will not be meeting a judge who will find us guilty: instead he will embrace us and lead us into the house of his Father to remain there forever. “Does your soul not burn with the desire to make your Father-God happy when he has to judge you?” (J. Escrivá, The Way, 746).

Prayer:  May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.