The beauty of the temple in Jerusalem was one of the wonders of the world. Some were speaking with admiration about its beauty, how it was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings. The Apostles must have been shocked to hear Jesus pronounce the prophecy that one day that beautiful temple would be totally demolished.
It is also a sobering thought to realize that these beautiful, healthy, strong and youthful bodies of ours will one day come to an end. We need to reflect on this truth, it will help us to remain faithful to God. Scripture says, “In whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin” (Sir 7:36). Another passage reminds us of our origin and our end, “The Lord from the earth created man, and in his own image he made him. Limited days of life he gives him and makes him return to earth again” (Sir 17:1-2). If we come from the earth and will return to earth again (Gen 2:19), how can we act so independently and sin? Scripture remonstrates with us and makes us face stark reality, “Why are dust and ashes proud? Even during life man’s body decays; a slight illness—the doctor jests, a king today—tomorrow he is dead” (Sir 10:9-10).
Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple actually came true in the year 70 AD when the Roman army surrounded the city, broke through the walls and destroyed the temple and the city.
The Apostles wanted to know when that would happen, but Jesus would not say. They wanted to know what signs to look for indicating that the destruction was about to take place. He simply told them to be aware of false prophets claiming to be the Messiah, or that the end of the age was arriving. They must not believe or follow them. Much time will elapse before the final end. Wars will take place, uprisings and civil wars will happen. They are not to be terrified when all of that happens.
Warring countries with each other remind us of the final days. Alongside these signs, others such as earthquakes, famines and plagues will also occur. Added to this, “awesome and mighty signs will come from the sky”. We do not know when the final end will come. It will come suddenly. Our task is to remain vigilant and ready at any moment. We must live in the divine presence with a clear conscience, ready for Jesus’ arrival.