November 17, 2019 At Saint Peter and Saint William Parishes in Naples, FL
Malachi, 3, 19-20 + Psalm 98 + 2 Thessalonians 3, 7-12 + Luke 21, 5-19
There are two issues in these Gospel verses today. The first concerns the end of the world.
Jesus states that there will be an end time, when the Son of Man will come as judge, but we cannot determine when that will be. There is really only one way for people of faith to live with this reality. You can recognize them by the way they live, always in the present, always full of life and joy. There is something spontaneous about them. You never hear them say: “One of these days I’m going to……” Has anyone here ever said that? If you are nodding your head, I would propose that you need to let these Gospel verses sink into your soul. People of real, living faith never put off to tomorrow what they can, should, and will do today. It’s not a matter of how much you can do in day, but how you prioritize what do each day, because you never know if it is the last. This is the way disciples of Jesus live. If someone is in need, you don’t wait till tomorrow to help them. One of you may be dead, and then you live with regret. If there is a word of thanks, compliment, or some encouragement you want to offer, you don’t wait till tomorrow. Saving something for a great day, for a special day, or for just the “right moment” might mean nothing ever happens. What Luke would have us understand is that every day is a special day, and every day is a great day.
The second issue in these Gospel verses today concerns the destruction of the Temple. By the time Luke wrote his Gospel, the Temple had already been destroyed by the Romans, and historians suggest that perhaps one million people died as a result of the Roman fury at a minor rebellion. Looking only at that, Luke’s readers at the time could begin to feel like victims as one catastrophe after another was happening. But these verses and words of Jesus suggest that people who experience tragedies are not just sad victims because, Jesus sees these events as opportunities. They are opportunities for disciples to bear witness to Jesus and the Gospel. By forewarning them Jesus forearming them.
It is exactly at the worst of times that Christian people are needed to stand in the darkness of despair as a light to the world. It is exactly when lying and falsehood is everywhere that the truth is needed, and who has the Truth? Jesus Christ and those he sends before him. Exactly when hatred seems to be in control, love is needed. In the midst of and in times of war, it is peace that is needed from peaceful people in the name of Christ whose very presence is peace.
In a world of social and political turmoil, people of faith will often be regarded as naive and irrelevant. However, we must not be afraid of skepticism and cynicism, but trust that God will give us the strength to hold our ground. That strength comes from the hope that this Gospel promises. Remember this about Jesus. He was an outcast from the very beginning. There was no room for him in the inn when he was born. His neighbors ran him out of town. His family questioned his sanity. One of his closest friends betrayed him. The others abandoned him, and his countrymen traded his life for that of a terrorist.
This Gospel urges us all to not lose heart in times of difficulty. Our faith does not rest upon human institutions, but on God alone. Human things fall apart and fail. What we put our trust in is the faithfulness of God. We are privileged to share in Christ’s suffering, and by sharing the suffering, he will share with us his strength and endurance, and together we shall all share in his glory.