33RD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
In the world today, we often feel like we need a “time out” or the equivalent of a few “stop the world, I want to get off” moments. I have been lucky that this week I have had one of those moment as I have been out of action for a couple of days due to a bit of sickness and it has been good to recharge the batteries. Many things and countries around are in turmoil as we see in the Philippines and other places where there have been disasters of one sort or another as well as non-stop action if not in our own lives then in the lives of someone we know. Sometimes I think that a break in the constant adrenalin flow of the day would be nice, if even for just a brief time, time enough to collect myself and that is why it was good for me to be able to take time out during the week even though the head and throat were sore for in the run up to Christmas things will as usual get busier and we might not get a chance to think about God and things of the Spirit.
Our readings for this Sunday tell us about the time that the world has left as well as the time that we have left. The prophet Malachi says that the Day of the Lord is coming. In the Bible, The Day of the Lord refers to the last days of the world. In the Gospel, Jesus Himself gives some details for those who ask Him for signs that will precede the end time. First, He tells them not to believe those who claim to preach in His name that the end is now! “Do not believe them,” Jesus warns.
Then He speaks of natural disasters and wonders from the sky. Even then, He says, the end will not come before a general persecution and imprisonment of His faithful followers. This is the time for them to give witness to His Name. Don’t prepare your defense ahead of time, He says, for “I myself shall give you a witness in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” It’s all about having courage to cling to our faith. “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives,” Jesus concludes. When we hear the readings for this weekend we are tempted to dismiss them as something in the far future, something we most probably will not experience. We forget that the end of our own days will certainly come, and much sooner than any of us anticipate as time is flying by. So the father in the story is correct: None of us can allow hatred, anger or upset to destroy the time we have left to serve the Lord.
In time of trial it is of great profit to us patiently to endure for God’s sake, for the Lord says: “By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves.” He did not say by your fasting, or your solitude and silence, or your singing of psalms, although all of these are helpful in saving your soul. But he said: “By patient endurance” in every trial that overtakes you, and in every affliction, whether this be insolent and contemptuous treatment, or any kind of disgrace, either small or great; whether it be bodily weakness, or the belligerent attacks of Satan, or any trial whatsoever caused either by other people or by evil spirits.This Sunday we are offered the time and grace to commit ourselves to the Gospel’s invitations to faith in his Kingdom and our working for the Widow’s and Orphans and against the possessors who are oppressors” of such poor.
The heavens and earth and all its temples may and will pass away, but for those who accompany Jesus during their days on earth, they will pass along “in that number.”