Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 13, 2016
Reading 1MAL 3:19-20A
Responsorial PsalmPS 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
- (cf. 9) The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Reading 22 THES 3:7-12
Homily— November 12 &13, 2016
Our readings urge us to face “the Day of the Lord.” Our time is limited, and each one of us is, in fact, going to die.
In the early part of Scripture, the Day of the Lord was looked forward to as the day when God would come to destroy our enemies. It would be a day of great rejoicing. But, by the time of Malachi, “the Day” was no longer thought of as the day that our enemies would be destroyed. Malachi said the Day of the Lord would be when God judged and punished those of us who had not stayed faithful to him.
The Book of Malachi was written after the Temple had been rebuilt following the Babylonian exile. Malachi was scandalized that no one seemed to take their faith seriously.
Luke was dealing with people who to some degree already thought the end had begun. Jerusalem had been destroyed, there was persecution, there were earthquakes, and the community was in conflict. Luke had to bring to his people a word of comfort; they did not have to fear the Day of the Lord.
The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series, Donald Trump has won the election to lead our country, earthquakes still happen, there is the continued threat of terrorism, and people are protesting the election. Luke would tell us to remain calm.
The Daily Catholic Devotion booklet, “Living Faith” had this appropriate reflection today/yesterday. “As you read this, you know who won and lost the elections . . . You know how far off the polls may have been and whether the candidates of your choice have won. What matters now is what we do with that knowledge. Whatever our individual allegiances may be, we owe it to one another, as brothers and sisters in Christ and fellow citizens of the world, to support our newly elected leaders unless and until they prove unworthy of that support. No doubt it will be a challenge for some of us to accept the winners. May we encourage one another, in a way worthy of the Lord, to be advocates of peace and goodwill.”
Jesus warned that spiritual opportunists will take the opportunity to scare us and advise us falsely. We have seen this at work in politicians who use scare tactics to win votes. Jesus said that some should be afraid of the end, but not all of us. While Jesus warns us that disciples will suffer we should never suffer from fear: “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair of your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
In the second reading the Thessalonians believed deeply that the Second Coming was at hand. Unfortunately, many of the Christians of Thessalonica were reacting by quitting their jobs and abandoning their other responsibilities. “Why work if we’re going to die anyway?” they reasoned. Some, in their idleness, had become armchair critics who preferred to focus on the shortcomings of others rather than on the coming of the Lord. Paul urged everyone to go on quietly with their lives and not to support anyone who would not earn their keep. Paul reminded them, and us, that faithful Christians fulfill their responsibilities to God and neighbor regardless of circumstances.
As we approach the end of our liturgical year; we hear Jesus telling people in his time that even the most revered place in their lives, the very temple itself, will come to an end. They must be ready. “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand” (Luke 21:20)
These ominous words of Jesus may bring to mind images and memories for people in the world even today. How many places in recent times have been destroyed by hostile armies or determined terrorists? “Wars and rumors of wars” were expected to signal the coming of the times. If that were literally the case, how many times throughout history could humankind have anticipated the immanent end of this world? But, “Do not be terrified, “Jesus said, “for such things must happen” before the end comes.
We are still here. The end has not yet come. We never give in to fear about death. We do not have to stockpile food underground. By staying faithful to the Lord we can actually rejoice that “the Day of the Lord’ will come for us. Our task is to live for the Lord.