When we are lamenting the current day’s disasters, and come across this text, I guess it’s fair to say we were duly warned.
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that its destruction is close at hand. At that time, those in Judea must flee to the mountains, those in the city must escape, and those in the countryside must not enter the city. These are the days of punishment, when everything written will find its fulfillment. How terrible it will be at that time for women who are pregnant or for women who are nursing their children. There will be great agony on the earth and angry judgment on this people. (Luke 21:20-23, CEB)
Today there was a murder-suicide in an elementary school; two children were injured. (Edited to note with sadness that one of the children died.) Yesterday bombs went off in Coptic Christian sanctuaries. Last week internal chemical attacks killed adults and children in Syria. A few weeks ago in a US drone strike in Syria, a mosque was struck during worship. (Our military has denied the veracity of this report despite social media images.)
We are killing each other everywhere, and there is no sanctuary.
When I read scripture with warnings like the ones Jesus offers in Luke 21, I like to think that we are explaining backwards. Jerusalem had fallen, horribly, before Luke’s account was written. But this feels like inevitable, eternal prophesy right now. Substitute any place name: Mosul, Alexandria, San Bernardino; Portsmouth, Portland, Mechanicsburg.
If my mind goes to mothers and children, maybe it’s because I think of how ferociously, yet helplessly, protective I felt when my children were small. I would have done anything for them if danger had threatened, yet I would have been no defense against weapons designed to destroy.
I wish I knew how to make it stop.
How terrible it will be.
No, how terrible it is.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? The full schedule can be found here.