November 17th : Gospel Reflection for this Sunday The 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
What’s really important and sacred…
Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It’s the last Sunday in this current liturgical year. The Sunday after that marks the beginning of Advent. Today’s gospel is about the end times as they are called.
Those with Jesus were talking about the Temple. They were saying how big and beautiful it was. They were commenting about how richly it was adorned and decorated. They were rightly very proud of it. But Jesus warns them not to become too confident, comfortable or complacent. After all, it’s just a building and some day it will simply not be there!
Jesus then proceeds to speak like a prophet or merchant of doom. In times past, it was not unusual to see people with a sign around their neck which said, ‘the end is nigh’ (near). Reading the last paragraph of this gospel looks likes Jesus is pointing to the end of the world as we know it. There will be floods, famines and wars; there will be great earthquakes and plagues. When we look at the news any evening, we can see all these things happening today. There are so many people suffering because of war and violence; many are struggling because of natural disasters. There are extremes of weather effecting people, animals and the world around us. As always, it is the poor who suffer most. But these are not the work of God nor are they the signs of which Jesus speaks. Science now tells us that more than likely these are as a result of how we ourselves are living today and treating the planet. War and violence are the work of our hands, not Gods.
Since humans developed creativity and imagination we have built the most impressive buildings imaginable. Think of the ancient temples built thousands of year ago; the Pyramids of Egypt, The Taj Mahal in India or the great Cathedrals of Europe. Impressive as they are, they are still just buildings; they will not last forever.
This gospel and the words of Jesus ask us to think carefully about where we put trust, hope and confidence. We can look at our own lives and name the places on which we rely and appreciate for their beauty; our own homes, museums, universities, cathedrals and other national monuments. Important as they are, they are not permanent. As we know, they are often destroyed by forces beyond our control.
Jesus constantly tells not to be afraid. The true and firm foundation of our lives are not brick, wood or concrete. It is Jesus himself, in whom we live, move and have our being. The church is not just or even a building; the church is people focused on and gathered around the person of Jesus. We are part of building and Christ himself is its main cornerstone.
As we come to end of this liturgical year, can we take some time to think about where we place our time, hope and security? On whom or what do we truly place our confidence? Is God asking us to create more time for prayer, service and community? In the end, these will never come to end or be destroyed.
-Br Michael Moore OMI
Gospel for Sunday November 17th : Luke 20:27-38 ©
Your endurance will win you your lives.
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed’. And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand”. Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.
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