And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.
Jesus has just finished a fairly extensive and strong condemnation of the pharisees and scribes in the previous chapter and has just "left the building". His disciples catch up to him and instead of talking about what he just shouted at the the leaders of the temple, they point out to to him the aspects of the temple building itself. Jesus continues with the theme he had just been explicating to the pharisees and scribes, by predicting the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and then lists the aspects of "the end times".
Matthew wrote this Gospel after the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans, and their destruction of the temple. He was writing to a group of Jewish Christians much persecuted encouraging them to hang on to their faith during this time of persecution, famine, war, distrust and fragmentation of the faithful. I have read this passage innumerable times, but the verse And because of the increase in lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold never stood out for me before. What a simple yet true idea.
When we face difficult times, and the world around us seems to be imploding, Jesus is warning us about a coldness of heart that can come overcome us. This is a natural, self-protective reaction we as human beings can have. Jesus instructs us to carry-on, to endeavor not to let that coldness take over who and what we are as his disciples, as the Body of Christ in the world today. For a coldness of heart takes us away from the "new" commandment Jesus gives us: to love our neighbor as ourselves. With a cold heart we cannot do this thing that is the center of who we are and from which all else blossoms and is a fitting end to his theme of cleaning the inside, not just polishing the outside. For to love is the hardest and easiest thing to do, and takes daily attention.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.