Reflections

THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2019

Keep Doing Good While Waiting
1. We Are People of Hope
2. Good News until the End
Introduction
1. We Are People of Hope
In all ages there have been “prophets of doom,” as good Pope John XXIII called them. They are people so scared by the problems of their time that they think the end of the world is near. Our day is one of rapid changes, much violence and hunger and suffering. Now we know about them immediately via television and other media. No wonder that many sects arise and speculate about the end of our world. The message of today’s liturgy is: don’t be afraid. Keep trusting in God, be a steadfast Christian and bear witness to God’s love. You are in his hands, and Christ is here among us.

2. Good News Until the End
We call “gospel,” that is, “Good News,” the message brought us by Jesus Christ. Yet the part of the message that we hear today sounds more like bad news, about earthquakes and famine, wars and destruction. Yet what he tells us is still good news for Jesus wants to reassure us that in all miseries and troubles that beset us God is on our side and loves us, and that we should not listen to those who threaten us with a fearful end. We are, and should remain, people of hope. Let us ask Jesus, our Lord here among us, to fill us with trust and hope.

First Reading: God’s Sun of Justice
When the Lord comes to judge, happy are those who have been found to be just.

1 Reading: 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.

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

Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD. R.

Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy. R.

Before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth,
he will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity. R.

Second Reading: Prepare for the Lord’s Coming by Your Work
Do not prepare for the end of the world and Christ’s return by talking about it and wasting your time, says St. Paul. The best way to be ready is to continue working for good.

2 Reading: 2 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 disorderly way, 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.

Alleluia: Luke 21:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Sure of the Final Victory
The destruction of the Temple, calamities and persecution are images of the destruction of the old order and the beginning of a new one. Yet the person who perseveres in faith and hope has nothing to fear; such a one will live in the Lord.

Gospel: 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?” He answered, “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.”

Commentary
We observe many catastrophes around us and often plenty of evil. In the movies, we see evil villains progressing while the good suffer, are persecuted or attacked. Through the plotting of the villains, sometimes the good ones lose (at least apparently) the love of their lives or children. The good thing about movies is that we know in the end, good will triumph most of the time. Which is the same thing the prophet Malachi tells us today in the first reading.
People wonder why there is so much evil, why bad things happen to good people and why bad people prosper. It is a question most of us have had at one time or another. The problem of evil in the world has always been a huge philosophical issue that can only be answered from a firm hope in the promises of Christ of a new heaven and earth.
The call in the face of serious problems of the world is to have faith and trust that the promises of God are always fulfilled and that we know the ending because we have known Christ.
On the other hand, many people think that the natural catastrophes, earthquakes, floods, misfortunes are signs that the end of the world is near. We don’t know that, because no one knows the day or the hour and the only way to prepare ourselves, Jesus says, is to remain firm in the faith, joyful and confident because we know the end of this story, although we don’t know when it will happen. How can we keep firm, joyful, and confident? First, by praying, turning to God in every moment of our lives, both good and bad. Second, by doing the works of the Kingdom of God, which includes works of love, healing and mercy toward everyone; everything that entails the good toward all, even if it means personal sacrifices, such as being attentive to what can help the truth and justice of God to reign, contributing our grain of sand so that evil does not always conquer. While we wait, we must work tirelessly.

Blessing
Much is changing today,
some for the better, some for the worse.
We seem to be at a turning point of history
both in the Church and in the world.
There is much anxiety among people.
But the point is not:
Is this the end of the world?
We should leave that to the Lord.
It is rather: What do we do
to make this world human, livable,
conformable to the message of the gospel?
May we prepare for the Lord’s coming
with the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.

Let us go in peace,
hoping and trusting in the Lord.
R/ Thanks be to God.

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