Reality check (Gospel-Revised Common Lectionary)
13 As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2 Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
As I have mentioned in these vignettes before, my work-a-day world takes me into New York City. A city of much asphalt, marble, steel, glass, brownstone, plaster, iron.
It, along with other huge cities and historical towns around the world, are beautiful, each in their own way. Throughout the years, kings, nobles, town planners, architects have tried to preserve sections of cities in a relatively natural state - grass, trees, walkways. However, the things that do strike us most radically are the buildings. Some tall, some unique in design, some ornate. Even the churches and the cathedrals in these cities draw tourists and pilgrims alike to see the amazing things that "man" has made.
In the time of Christ within Jerusalem, the Temple was the center of life and the most architecturally amazing building that existed. It was massive, took years to complete and contained many wonderful, expensive items. The disciples and Jesus had just been praying in the temple and came out, admiring the surroundings.
Jesus - whether in the context of the tumult surrounding his upcoming death by crucifixion - or the eventual destruction of the Temple by outsiders - said even this great structure would not last.
We make things and they do not last.... not forever. The transitional nature of what we 'accomplish' in the way of making things, or creating institutions, or populating the earth only comes to our consciousness occasionally and briefly. Something within us yearns to create something that will last - will testify to our having been here.
The buildings we create may crumble; our love, our faithfulness, our good will and good deeds, our selflessness, our devotion, our faith in action...... these will never be destroyed. Amen and Amen.