33rd Sunday of the Year ( c ) 2019
“The time will come when not a single stone will be left on another”. Jesus was speaking about the Temple. Now the Temple was a huge building. I’ve seen the quarry from which the stones were hewn. Some of the stones were the size of a bus. It was a rock solid building. So, it would have been shocking to hear Jesus predict that not a single stone would be left on another. How could such a strong building be destroyed. We must have some building like that today in England. Take the Tower of London, for example, it’s been there for 1000 years; it’s hard to imagine it being reduced to rubble.
As for buildings so also for people; it’s hard to imagine life without some people. Not just our parents or siblings but other people we know. Some characters are so big that you might think they will live forever. I remember one of our Carmelite friars had a larger than life personality. He became ill, had a triple heart by-pass, was making a slow recovery of a few months, then next thing we heard he had died. I found it hard to believe. He was such a personality that I thought he would never die. And yet he did. His death was a reminder to me and others that life is always changing. And the ultimate change for us all is death.
But death is hard to think about; especially our own. I like to watch some old tv comedies; like Morecambe and Wise, or the Two Ronnies, or Only Fool and Horses. Once upon a time, not that long ago, you would never miss these comedians on TV. They were so funny and made you laugh; certainly made me laugh. Your week wasn’t complete unless you saw their programme on tv. It is hard to imagine that they are not there anyone. And yet they aren’t. Life has moved on.
No, nothing remains the same. Slowly, slowly all is changing. I look at myself in the mirror and I can remember when I had dark hair, and lots of it, when I had no double chin, no wrinkles. I have changed. And I will continue to change. I look at my friends, friends I have known since I was a teenager and they too have changed; grey hair, or no hair, big stomachs; when we all used to have long dark hair and be slim. We call it ‘father time’; sometimes ‘anno domino’. Born 1950 – (hyphen) died…? Not yet. I was at a funeral once where the priest preached about the hyphen ( – ). What matters in life, he said, is the hyphen; what we do between the day we are born and the day we die.
No one likes to change, but it was Cardinal Newman, now a saint, who said to change is to grow. Our bodies grow in one direction, but we, our person, in other words our souls, grow in another. As we get older we change and if we are trying to live according to the Gospel then we grow in holiness. And the fulness of humanity is to be holy. We are not called to be average Christians but to be the best, and God can and will do this in us.
So when we notice change all around us, we should remember that God never changes. And all we need in life is to hold on to our faith in him. We may change but He will never change.