December 7 – Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week after Pentecost (12th of Luke) Luke 21:28-33
Whom to Believe? Luke 21:28-33, especially vss. 32-33: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no
means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass
away.” Our modern world encourages us to prepare for the future through retirement accounts, good education
for our children, and insurance to protect our valuables against foreseeable risks. These plans, however, are
designed for “time-limited” hereafters, for they encompass a period that lies just over the horizon in terms of the
days, months, and years ahead.
Compare this timeline with the words of the Lord Jesus concerning the future: “Heaven and earth will
pass away” (vs. 33). How do we prepare for the end of the universe, which includes space, time, and all of
creation? Into which future shall we pour our primary energy in this life? Shall we invest in near probabilities and
the years of our limited existence, or in the everlasting and unending Kingdom of Heaven? Note that the scope of
this question encompasses even our notions of estate planning.
The real question is, who do we believe? Do we choose to follow the world and its options, or the Lord
Jesus and His eternal promises? The world prefers to ignore what Christ says. Secular men call it mere pious talk
or religious jargon. They discount eternity as a vague prospect far removed from the measurable future and having
no bearing on foreseeable events.
However, dismissing concerns about the ultimate end of all things is contrary to the Lord Jesus’ advice.
Our Savior is firm and definite – He desires us to be alert to the signs of the ultimate conclusion of all things (vss.
32). He repeats the admonition to be watchful twice (vss. 28, 30-31), saying in effect, that our perspective is
urgent and crucial. We die only once, and then judgment is our lot (Heb 9:27).
Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid enjoins us to never lose our perspective on this world and its time-bound
concerns, but to trust the words of God our Savior, for “He shows that He holds the Church in greater honor than
all creation, for if all creation is changed, then no part of it outlives or is superior to His words and the Church of
the faithful, which shall not pass away” (Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke, p. 276).
As we examine Christ’s words more closely, note the Lord’s emphasis on looking and observing: “Look
up, lift up your heads” (Lk 21:28); “look at the fig tree, and all the trees” (vs. 29); “when they are already budding
you see and know” (vs. 30).
What does Christ mean by these repeated instructions to look and see? In the Garden of Gethsemane He
says to the disciples, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Mt 26:41). Likewise, He directs us to
watch inwardly – to look into our hearts. We must labor to free our hearts from degrading passions and worldly
thoughts. “When Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning in your
hearts?’” (Lk 5:22). He stresses the need for us to watch within. According to Blessed Theophylact, “The first
coming of the Lord was for the re-fashioning and rebirth of our souls, so the second coming will be for the rebirth
of our bodies” (p. 275).
Let us look within for the coming of the Holy Spirit, for He will help us cleanse our souls. Now is the time
to concentrate on the inner life. When the Lord comes, will we be found worthy of the renewal of our souls and
We can remain alert, ever waiting for the Lord’s return, by focusing on the inner movements that cause
us to sin. As we struggle to please Him, a healthy fear of the Lord grows within us and reveals whatever separates
us from Him. “Glory to Thee, Who hast shown us the light.”
O Christ, our ruler, guide, and God, increase and multiply Thy mercy upon us that we may so pass
through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal. – Collect for the Third Sunday after Pentecost