|33rd Sunday in Ordinary time, 13 Nov 2016|
From the Dean’s Desk
Today’s liturgy marks the second last week of the Church’s liturgical year, and so it is not surprising that we have the theme of the end time mentioned in the readings. Last week, our Gospel focused on the notion of resurrection and the afterlife [Luke 20:27-38] with Jesus’ confrontation with the Sadducees over this issue. The Gospel [21:5-19] lies between the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the beginning of the Passion Narrative. As such it is a preparation and reminder to the followers of Jesus that times will become difficult for them. All that they need to have in order to overcome these difficult times is faith and perseverance – all else will take care of itself.
The first reading from the prophet Malachi [3:19-21] warns of the day of the Lord that will come as a great fire. It will be a means of destruction to those who are ‘arrogant and evil doers’ while those who ‘fear God’s name’ will bask in its radiance. The warning then is set in place: do wrong and you can expect punishment; obey the word of God and righteousness is on your side.
The way in which the people were in awe of the outside of the Temple becomes the entry point for Jesus to give the people a teaching on what is important in life. He mentions that the Temple will be reduced to rubble – pointing towards the eventual siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Jesus then warns the people to not follow the signs or the people who claim to be the Messiah. In this time there will be great natural and man-made horrors: earthquakes, wars, famine and other disasters. He points also to the fact that it will be a difficult time of persecution for his followers. Jesus assures them that these trials will be an opportunity to bear witness to his ways. In fact they are not to worry about what they have to say or do: all will be given to them from a power from on high! The final sentence becomes the main theme of this passage and of Jesus’ message: ‘Your endurance will win you your lives!’ In other words, Jesus challenges the people to be alert, prepared for whatever comes and to rely on their faith as a means of overcoming these trials.
When we place this passage and its message within our present times we can see that it is a message that is still relevant. In the midst of natural and human-made disasters our faith in a merciful and loving God can begin to falter. It is at this time that we can come to realise and accept the tremendous depths of Jesus’ claim - that there is no need for us to fear or to become anxious about the future. All that is required of us is a faith that is seen in our continued perseverance each day. It is the basis of the words of the Lord’s Prayer, when we entreat God to ‘give us each day our daily bread… to lead us not into temptation and to deliver us from all evil.’ Our fidelity to this perseverance needs to be a daily challenge – one renewed through prayer, adherence to the Scriptures and immersion into the Sacramental life. We believe that the grace of salvation given to us in Baptism and strengthened through the sacrament of Confirmation and nourished daily by the Eucharist allows us the means to continue on our pilgrimage to the Father. While suffering and death is a part of our earthly existence we take courage that we already possess the gift of eternal life by God’s grace. This becomes a means for us to not lose hope but to live patiently each day with faith. Our endurance will lead us to salvation.
Fr Robert Bossini