Malachi 3:19-20;; Psalm 98:5-9;; 2Thess. 3:7-12;; Luke 21:5-19

This past Tuesday, you may have heard in the news that the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat have ruled that the newly constructed New York’s One World Trade Center will unseat our own Chicago Willis (formerly, Sears) Tower, as the nation’s tallest building. Big deal! If you stood at the peak of the Willis Tower in Downtown Chicago and took a panoramic view of the city, you cannot but admire the magnificence and the sparkling beauty of the city. Like many other big cities around the world, from New York to Dubai, from Hong Kong to Malaysia;; Chicago is adorned with awesome and breathtaking skyscrapers. Many of them are very captivating, making one wonder about the ingenuity of the human mind to create such beauty and wonder. Contemplating the architectural geniuses behind these buildings, one cannot help but thank God for endowing humans with such creative wisdom. When you stand at the foot of a mountain, seeing rocks piled upon rocks, you cannot but ask yourself: How did God do it? But the fact remains that none of these will last forever. The Temple in Jerusalem was adorned with such magnificence and beauty. Thus, “All that you see here (the symbol of vain beauty and knowledge, of power and oppression) the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” It is now history that Jesus’ prophetic prediction came to pass in the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.

This goes to show that material beauty, human power, knowledge and intelligence will all come to an end;; therefore, there is no need to invest all our resources in material things. God must always take the prime place. In today’s first reading, Prophet Malachi warns all those who took faith and worship for granted, and thus, predicts that “The day is coming...when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble...will be set on fire.” But for you who fear the name of God, for you who persevere in righteousness – for you who stand for the Truth and suffer persecutions and repercussions for speaking the truth, “there will arise the sun of Justice with its healing rays.” The historical context of the Book of Malachi, which was written following the Babylonian exile after the Temple had been rebuilt, was to caution the Jews about their apathy towards their religious duty and worship. Although, while in exile, they were anxious to return to their homeland, Jerusalem, Prophet Malachi was upset at how quickly the people ceased being serious about God and their faith. It seemed that, once everyone had what they wanted, they dismissed God and put Him out of their live. Does that not seem like what we have done collectively and individually in this country? We have taken God out of our school system – We have relegated Him to the back burner. He has become the last item on the list of our priorities. No matter how powerful a nation or individual we might be – no matter how wealthy, sophisticated and/or famous we might seem, we must not forget that a time will come that “no stone will be left upon stone;; neither...flesh be left upon flesh.”

Sadly, last week, we watched with utter horror as Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Eastern Provinces of the Philippines Islands. It is reported to have been the “worst typhoon in recorded history;;” some news outlets termed it, “a storm of biblical proportion.” Personally, it has been a very devastating and emotional experience for me, because, I have friends who are from the Philippines and some who are living there. It is disheartening to see the extent of the damage done by the typhoon. The many human lives that are lost – the countless property and livestock that are destroyed. It is so very sad! Although we cannot compare the magnitude of Super Typhoon Haiyan to last year’s Super Storm Sandy that ravaged part of the US east coast, or to that of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina;; it is worth mentioning that both of these natural disasters did do extensive damage to both humans and property. We cannot forget the 2008 devastating earthquake in Haiti or the colossal Tsunami that destroyed many parts of Asian coastal areas and inlands at the end of 2004. In all these disasters and many more like these, countless lives and property have been lost and destroyed. Very many beautiful and magnificent buildings and skyscrapers had been reduced to rubbles and pebbles. Sadly, in most of these cases, “no stone had been left upon another.” We pray for the people of the Philippines and for all victims of natural disasters!

Rev. Anthony Ita Bassey, MSP