Pentecost +24 - Year B
The destruction of the Temple in 70 CE becomes but the first of the birthpangs of new life after Mark’s abrupt ending of fleeing women. Another reflection on the significance of Temple destruction, written about the same time as Mark or just after, is found in the Apocalypse of Baruch (Syriac) [also known as 2 Baruch], Jeremiah’s scribe and prophet in his own right.
Regardless of which Temple destruction is portrayed, note the perspective of how the presence of G*D is not taken from the outside but hidden deep within the earth. The destruction is self-imposed. Life-in-fullness will depend on how you look at destruction. We are called to not pay overmuch attention to various destructions, but to continue living as though a new birth were already present and celebration for its presence directs how we participate in living fully.
As we come to the end of this long season after Pentecost, may you see beyond and stand hopeful in the midst of fear and destruction. May you continue to hear whispers from earth and creation regarding the presence of G*D. This stance will hold us well as we enter into another time of detached expectancy.
2 Baruch Chapters 6-9:
(6:1) And it came to pass on the morrow that, lo! the army of the Chaldees surrounded the city, and at the time of the evening, I, Baruch, left the people, and I went forth and stood by the oak. (2) And I was grieving over Zion, and lamenting over the captivity which had come upon the people. (3) And lo! suddenly a strong spirit raised me, and bore me aloft over the wall of Jerusalem. (4) And I beheld, and lo! four angels standing at the four corners of the city, each of them holding a torch of fire in his hands. (5) And another angel began to descend from heaven. and said unto them: 'Hold your lamps, and do not light them till I tell you. (6) For I am first sent to speak a word to the earth, and to place in it what the Lord the Most High has commanded me.' (7) And I saw him descend into the Holy of Holies, and take from there the veil, and holy ark, and the mercy-seat, and the two tables, and the holy raiment of the priests, and the altar of incense, and the forty-eight precious stones, wherewith the priest was adorned and all the holy vessels of the tabernacle. (8) And he spoke to the earth with a loud voice:
'Earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the mighty God,
And receive what I commit to you,
And guard them until the last times,
So that, when you are ordered, you may restore them,
So that strangers may not get possession of them.
(9) For the time comes when Jerusalem also will be delivered for a time,
Until it is said, that it is again restored for ever.'
(10) And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up.
(7:1) And after these things I heard that angel saying unto those angels who held the lamps: 'Destroy, therefore, and overthrow its wall to its foundations, lest the enemy should boast and say:
"We have overthrown the wall of Zion,
And we have burnt the place of the mighty God."'
(2) And they have seized the place where I had been standing before.
(8:1) Now the angels did as he had commanded them, and when they had broken up the corners of the walls, a voice was heard from the interior of the temple, after the wall had fall saying:
(2) 'Enter, you enemies,
And come, you adversaries;
For he who kept the house has forsaken (it).'
(3) And I, Baruch, departed. (4) And it came to pass after these things that the army of the Chaldees entered and seized the house, and all that was around it. And they led the people away captive and slew some of them, and bound Zedekiah the king, and sent him to the king of Babylon.
(9:1) And I, Baruch, came, and Jeremiah, whose heart was found pure from sins, who had not been captured in the seizure of the City. (2) And we rent our garments, we wept, and mourned, and fasted seven days.