November 17, 2019 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
A reading from the Book of Prophet Malachi (3:19-20a)
Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.
A reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians (3:7-12)
Brothers and sisters:
You know how one must imitate us.
For we did not act in a disorderly way among you,
nor did we eat food received free from anyone.
On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day
we worked, so as not to burden any of you.
Not that we do not have the right.
Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.
In fact, when we were with you,
we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work,
neither should that one eat.
We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a
by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.
Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly
and to eat their own food.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (21:5-19)
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
How would you imagine the end of time? I asked this question to some of our staff here in our Parish. Many of them expressed their fear of the end of time and imagined the destruction of the world. Calamities and unimaginable tragedies will occur. There will be fire, typhoons, tsunamis and earthquakes. There will be great suffering, pain and death.
Our readings this Sunday seemed to have the same horrifying images also. The first reading from the Book of Prophet Malachi prophesied about the destruction of the evildoers. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus described the signs that will come like the powerful earthquakes, famines, plagues, wars, and persecutions.
However, does the end of time really mean to be deadly and terrifying for all of us?
Let us see closely the prophesy of Prophet Malachi and the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke .
The prophecy from Book of Prophet Malachi was addressed to all the Israelites who have returned from exile. However, at their return the prophet saw how the leaders of the Jewish community had become corrupt, abusive and indifferent to the common people.
Those words of destruction and death are meant for those who continually reject God and oppressed His people. Yet, the prophecy is also a hopeful promise to end the evil institution and end of corruption and death. And for those who remained faithful and in friendship with God, the words of Malachi meant comfort and strength, for to them, the Lord will come to bring healing.
And this will be the most wonderful and joyful time.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus warns us of those who pretend to be god and not to follow them because they only lead us to death and not to life. Jesus also reminds us of the sufferings in life that may come but he comforts us not to be terrified and to be afraid. Jesus promises us with his presence abiding in us. He will never leave us alone. Jesus will walk with us and accompany us.
Moreover, at the fulfillment of time, Jesus will be with us in person with his power and glory. And when he comes, Jesus will gather His people who believed in him and trusted him even in difficult times. His coming will be the end of the corrupt and the murderers. It will be a destruction of the powerful and arrogant.
Now, the beautiful message lies here. The message of comfort and strength, of joy and peace is for us who are waiting patiently for the end of time. This is what St. Paul tells us.
Thus, for us who believe in Jesus, the end of time is not something that we should be afraid. It is not a terrifying event but it will be the most joyful moment of our life. Meeting the Lord is a moment of fulfillment of all our hopes, desires and dreams.
However, it will surely be a destruction to what is evil. It will be the most terrifying moment for those who continually reject God and for those who pretend and act like a god.
With all of these, what can we do then, as we patiently wait for the second coming of Jesus?
God in His generosity and love prepares us daily for that wonderful moment of our life. God prepares us by making Himself felt daily and in every moment and event in our life. Jesus reveals himself in us and through us. Indeed, Jesus’ words will not pass away, his promises will never fade. God is faithful and He is ever present with us. That is why, it is very important that we become discerning and welcoming of Jesus’ presence being revealed in us and around us.
How do we do it then? Our prayers as constant communication with God, both individually and as a community, will help us to make ourselves open to God. When we pray, we also allow God to transform us and transform the way we look at things, the way we judge things and people and our way of relating with others. Thus, the effect of constant talking and listening to God forms us to be more aware of His presence in our life.
This calls us to recognize God in everyone and in everything. What would be its consequence now?
When we grow tired from praying because our dreams and desires were not granted, remember, that God never grows tired in making Himself known to us. God also reveals himself in moments of failures and defeats.
When we become confused and doubtful of our faith, remember that God never surrenders on us. God makes himself known even in moments of our pain and suffering. When we feel that we are surrounded by evil, corruption and deaths, remember that God brings justice and makes himself bright even in the darkest part of our lives as Christians and members of our community.
As we are about to end the liturgical calendar and begin the Season of Advent in few weeks’ time, let us make this week more wonderful and exciting.
Let us intensify our “Wi-Fi connection” with God, by making our prayer frequent and sincere.
Hopefully, this will lead each of us to see and feel the face of God among ourselves and even among those people who are not familiar to us and events that may be surprising and strange for us. In this way, we hope that we too will grow in our faith and become more excited in the end of time where we will surely meet the Lord, who is the fulfillment of all our dreams and hopes. Hinuat pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR