November 17, 2019 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Mal 3:19-20a; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19
Homily shared by Fr. Mar Masangcay, CSsR ( a Filipino Redemptorist Missionary in South Korea)
Whenever death & disasters happen in our lives, we cannot help but raise the question about the end-time or the end of the world. Ever-present war, famine, pestilence, super typhoons, tsunamis, hunger, earthquakes, flooding, landslides, and countless death-crimes in life render us anxious and helpless towards our coming future. Our worries about the coming end-times are not only felt around us but also within us. We are not ignorant as to how it felt when our world seems have broken and ended whenever we experience heartache as to the death and loss of our loved ones, or failed in our studies, business endeavors, plans and dreams, or diagnose with serious illness and others. Even worse, the Scripture and Jesus himself warns us of these coming end-times as inevitable and surely to happen to our human life.
Related with our uncertainty about end-time are the questions:
“What’s the point? What’s the meaning of all these life-endeavors? Is there hope in life?”
And above all, at the very heart it raises the question:
“What now and then? Is there Life AFTER Death?”
A wise man once said:
“The question should not be: ‘Is there life after death’ but rather ‘Is there life BEFORE death’?
True enough, while life-disasters and death surely to happen in life, we should concern ourselves less about what happen to us after life, but rather to be more concerned about how we live our life before our inevitable death. Regardless whether there is life after death or not, we should never forget the fact that there is life before death that we are in now. If we come to think of it, we are now here alive for a reason and purpose to be in this world. It is for us now, as we live this life, to discover and fulfill in life our real reason and purpose to be and live. Our task and concern in life is to live our life now before death to the fullness of our very life-purpose.
Life Before Death would also mean that the greatest loss in life is not death, but what dies inside us while we live. Sadly there are people nowadays who have reasons to die than to live, and people who are still alive but dying and already died inside. Though painful, confusing and disheartening, our experiences of disasters and loss should move us still alive to deeply discover and enable the very reason and meaning of our life-existence. For Jesus, life-death and disasters are not only about end-times or world’s end, but more so about the opportunity for us to testify, that is, to rise to the occasion, and stand up and witness in life our faith in God through Him, and to live-up to our very life-purpose and reason in life. In other words, Jesus is saying to us, that these things will surely happen to us, but with a reason and for a purpose. So, we should consider more our life now before death, rather than our life after death.
Practical advice to ponder, whenever disaster strikes and happens in life is thus ask not, “Why is this happening TO me?” but rather, “why is this happening FOR me?” Asking, “why is this happening TO me?” leads to unhealthy self-doubt, blame, guilt, anger, and inner death. Asking “why is this happening FOR me?” leads to meaning, purpose, challenge, responsibility, and resolution.
As we grapple then with the concern about our experience of death & disasters in life, ask not: “Is there life after death?” “Why is this happening to me?” but rather ask, “Is there life before death?” “Why is this happening for me?”. So that, we may be more grounded to live our lives by its very reason, meaning and purpose, as well as to be a living testimony and witness of our Christian faith, and God’s grace to the world.
May the Lord lead us to fullness of life. Amen.