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November 1988

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Mk. 13:31)

These words are part of a dialogue between Jesus and his apostles, which began in the temple of Jerusalem and continued on the Mount of Olives. While they were coming out of the temple, one of the disciples said, with a certain degree of pride, "Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!" Jesus simply replied that of all these buildings not one stone would be left upon another. Then Jesus foretold many painful events: wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions, false prophets and messiahs, who would spread deceitful doctrines. Everything would conclude, however, with Jesus' glorious return on earth.

This gives us a totally new explanation of the meaning of history. History is on its way to the final encounter with Christ. In this perspective, the fall of human undertakings, of kingdoms and earthly ideals, and the inevitable disasters, should likewise be viewed as signs and warning us to prepare for this final encounter with Christ. The errors that spread and the uncertainty about when he will come should be interpreted as a reminder to be vigilant and generous in living his word.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Looking more closely, we can see that these words are the centre of all that Jesus says. They clearly show us that all the rest was said not in order to arouse our curiosity about future events and the end of the world, but in order to draw our attention to the importance of his word. He wants to tell us that his word is more important than anything else: more than the wealth and power of the kingdoms of this world; more than all the great achievements of human genius put together; more than the treasures of all the works of art in a big city like Rome, Paris or London; more than the monuments and even the cathedrals raised up to God by the faith of our fathers.

All of these things, beautiful and great though they may be, are destined to pass away. But the word of Jesus will not pass away. It cannot pass away because it is the word of God. It is worth our while to choose the word as the foundation of our entire life, starting from now.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

By stressing the importance of his eternal words, Jesus is telling us that his words are more important than all the words that have been said so far and that ever will be said by human beings on earth.

The words of God are true light and the full truth about people and history. They are the unit of measure which all the other doctrines, all the other teachers and thinkers of the past, present and future, will have to measure themselves against.

But above all, Jesus wants to tell us that his words when put into practice (it is for this reason alone that he says them), are our identity card. By living his words, we will be recognised as belonging to him and we will be admitted to his kingdom.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

What does the Word of Life suggest to us this month? It tells us to always put Jesus' teaching in the first place in our lives by trying to live them, without diminishing them, without compromising them with our egoism and the mentality of the world.

We must feel that we are Christians not because of tradition, but because we have chosen his words personally and consciously.

In order to live Jesus' teachings concretely, this month let's remember the words upon which we will be examined on the last day: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Mt. 25, 40) Let's take these words as our constant reference point and check if we live them. If we do live them with increasing generosity and consistency, we will see that they will help us to change our way of life, they will help us to bear fruit around us and help us to be inflamed by that supernatural love which necessarily creates the Christian revolution around us.

Chiara Lubich

(Many thanks are due to S.E. who supplied the 'missing' commentary for this Word of Life)

 

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