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Is Jesus a downer?

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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 11/22/22

If we wanted to encapsulate the definition of a wet blanket in one verse, we could use precisely the first verse of today's Gospel.
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Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

“While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said…”

If we wanted to encapsulate the definition of a wet blanket in one verse, we could use precisely the first verse of today’s Gospel. Jesus is perceived as someone who distracts us from the enchantment of unrealistic dreams, who ruins our arguments, who demolishes what seem to us to be priorities. 

He does this not out of spite but out of great affection. Indeed, only those who love you help you get your feet back on the ground, and understand that there are some things we invest our lives in that will inevitably end, and others that are incorruptible. Choosing between the former and the latter is the real business of life. 

But the listeners seem to hold on to more of an apocalyptic curiosity about life, thinking that even the end of the world is, ultimately, a spectacle to participate in. Jesus overturns this belief of theirs by making them realize that the end never coincides with what we think will be the end. Revolutions, wars, earthquakes, famines, and plagues may be dramatic events that remind us that we are finite creatures, but they don’t have to be truly the end. We need only look at history to see that many of these events have been followed by a rebirth. 

Our lives are traversed by events that remind us that we will die, but instead of thinking that everything is over, we should think that everything must have an end otherwise it’s not worth it. Being reminded of the fact that we will die someday causes us to be reborn with a new awareness.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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