(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, November 13, 2016)
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
As we approach the end of the Church Year, the readings take on a more sober tone. They're all about preparing for the "eschaton," the final days of life on this earth. With all the wars, hurricanes, earthquakes, wild fires and floods, many people wonder if the end is really getting close.
In the Gospel, Jesus told His followers "not yet" and it seems God has much more to do in this world even now. And we're told in this Year of Mercy that we are the ones that God will use as His instruments. It is ordinary followers of Jesus like us who must witness to the Mercy of God, real “Good News” so that more will be justified before the Final Judgment!
The first reading is from one of the very last prophecies of the Old Testament, the Book of Malachi. Its message is comforting to those who live righteous lives, and disturbing to those who have ignored God's laws and mercy. A fire, "blazing like an oven," will consume the evil ones, but "for those who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays."
In the second reading, St. Paul shows us how we are to prepare for the final days, mentioning what behavior to avoid. He scolds the lazy ones, saying to them, "those who do not work, should not eat," and likewise warns those who spend their time gossiping about their neighbors.
In the Gospel, Jesus Himself gives an "eschatological discourse," providing 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.
What great advice for us today, at the end of this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy!
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor