November 17, 2019 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Andy Upah

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 MAL 3:19-20A

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
R. (cf. 9)  The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.

Reading 22 THES 3:7-12

Alleluia LK 21:28

Gospel LK 21:5-19

Homily for Nativity on the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time  Year C 

Today’s first reading from Malachi and the Gospel from Luke focus on the end times.  Sometimes people will ask me, Father, are we living in the end times? And I usually respond, "no but we are living in our own end times!"

Most everyone, in every generation since even before Jesus came to earth, thought that they were living in the end times.  Wars, earthquakes, famines and plagues from place to place, they’ve always been a reality of the world, and people thought this must be a sign that it was the end.

Often people read into the things of the world too much, not everything is meant as a sign from God.  Furthermore, people have a tendency to think that this generation is worse than the last, that these disasters that we face are worse than the previous, but it isn’t necessarily true and it isn’t necessarily the end.

Even when facing the end, or things that appear to be signs of the end, Jesus tells us not to be terrified.  He doesn’t give us a definite timeline about when it will happen, He just tells us it will happen, and we should not be afraid, we should persevere in our faith despite everything that happens in the world. 

One thing that Jesus talked about happening as a sign was the destruction of the temple.  The temple in Jerusalem was the holiest place for the Jews, it had taken a long time to build and it was enormous, roughly the size of fifty Nativity’s.  People may have been rightly worried to hear that it would be destroyed.

But Jesus was not worried about the temple or these grand churches, he isn’t worried about buildings made of stone, He is only concerned for His own people, us as living temples and the Church as a community of believers. 

Jesus was concerned that in this world that is passing away that we would pass away with it. We were made for eternal life and happiness in union with God that was only made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Everything in this world is passing away.  This world is not our home, it is all just temporary, a place where we grow in love and holiness on our way to our heavenly home.  It’s a place where we learn of the love of Jesus, and imitate giving that unconditional love in our own lives.

So when Jesus says, “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.”   He is looking at it from the standpoint of eternity and our resurrected body, not a hair on our resurrected head will be destroyed, by our perseverance we will secure our eternal lives.

It is easy to get all caught up in what is happening in our world. Reading the newspaper or watching the nightly news has become an occasion of sin, we get so anxious and frustrated with the things that are happening in this world, despite not having an ounce of control over any of them.

We should focus on what we can control, the day by day things, first and foremost how we live our faith.  We live in the world, but we are not of the world, so we have to go to work and get stuff done, but only as a matter of survival which allows us more time to grow in holiness.

Every day is full of blessings, and we need to be aware of the way God is blessing us personally despite what is happening in the world.  God wants us to have joy and peace in this world which so often seems to lack those things.  

In our opening prayer, for all of us, I prayed, “Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God, the constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good.”

“Constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy.”

There is gladness and happiness, joy and peace in working with constancy, serving God and serving one another, out of our love for God and our neighbor.  

God created us. We are temples of the living God, the Holy Spirit, and God’s concern is for us, that we would live life to the full, and that we would persevere towards eternal life with Him in Heaven.  We have to live in this world, but we are not of this world.  

As a reminder of that fact, Jesus gives us his very body and blood to be a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, a weekly reminder of our goal to join Him there.  

Communion, the Eucharist, is our food for the journey, it can even be thought of as our medicine of immortality which heals us from our anxiety and frustrations of this world and helps us to persevere in our faith.

I pray that we will not get all caught up in the things that are happening in the world, rather, that we would keep our focus on Jesus, loving as He loves, and persevering in our faith through whatever comes our way.