Sunday Homily Week 33 O Time C
Mal 3:1-20; Ps 98:5-9; 2Thess 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19
“By your perseverance, you will save your life” (Lk 21:19)
Theme: “The Day of the Lord”
There is a day for everything. All of us have many “great days” in life which would be the big day of our achievements and success, and there is the saddest day of sorrow and suffering as well. However there are two great days for all of us, namely, the day of our birth and the day of our death. Today’s liturgy of the word speaks about the great day of the end of the world. In biblical terms, it is known as the Day of the Lord (cf. 1Tess 5:2). The Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, tells the parable of a theater where a variety show was proceeding. Each act was more fantastic than the last, and the audience applauded each scene. Suddenly the manager appeared on the stage, apologized for the interruption and announced at the top of his voice that the theater was on fire, and begged the people to leave the theatre immediately for saving their life. The spectators thought that it was the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheered thunderously. The manager again feverishly implored them to leave the burning building, and the people never minded him. At last the fire raced through the whole building engulfing the fun-loving audience with it. “And so,” concludes Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators.” One of the most important news that would frighten us is the news about the end of the world which will be the end our life itself. Just imagine, suppose we know for certain that the world is going to end today evening at 6 O’clock, what would be our reaction? No words can describe our tension and anxiety, worries and fear-filled emotions. But did Jesus speak about the exact time and day of the end of the world? Was the end time the big question for him?
As the Gospel narrative indicates, the people of Jerusalem were very proud of the Temple as the greatest symbol of their religious and national identity. Hence, when Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, it was a great shock to them and in fact a blasphemy. Yet within forty years, the prediction of Jesus was fulfilled. The Jerusalem Temple that was originally built by Solomon (960 BC), demolished by the Babylonians (586 BC), rebuilt by Zerubbabel and the returning exiles (536-516 BC), and rebuilt with massive structure by Herod the Great (20 BC– AD 64), was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans, and 1.1 million people perished, and 97,000 were carried away into captivity. The Temple was demolished by fire, and the priests were murdered. Therefore, when Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem Temple, his listeners thought that he was speaking about the end of the world. So they asked him, “Lord, when will this happen? (Lk 21:7). Jesus did not give them direct answer about the specific time of the final day. He only said that such calamities and awesome events would not be the signs for the end time. Therefore, we should not be misled (v. 8). It implies that the end of the world will certainly come and no one can escape from it, but it is still far from happening. The social turmoil, natural calamities, destruction of the Temple, betrayal and persecution of the church had taken place already for centuries. They continue to happen even today. Then what are we to look for? What is the message of Jesus?
The focus of his teaching is not on the precise program of the end time but on the nature of the Day of the Son of Man which would be the great day of reckoning and retribution. Therefore, the great day of the Lord implies the “today” of our life. How well are we prepared? Here being prepared involves renewing constantly our Christian commitments and live the present life meaningfully with all its responsibilities and challenges. This is our big question. “There will be trials and tribulations, conflicts and confusion, destruction and persecution” (Lk 21:8), yet Jesus instructs us that we should not be carried away by fear, frustration and discouragements and be misled, because he promises the divine protection and his power to guide us. So he says, “I myself shall give you wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist. Not even a heir on your head will be destroyed” (vv. 15, 18). It assures us how much our God is involved in our struggles. He does not abandon his chosen ones. Hence, as believers in such a loving God, we must be courageous to face the hardships and ordeals in our long Christian journey always trusting that our God loves us without limit and protects us from all harm. As Isaiah says, our Lord has inscribed all of us into the palm of his hands (cf. Is 49:16), and so we will not be harmed or lost. It is by our patient endurance and uncompromising faith, we will be able to welcome the day of the Lord and save our life.
As we heard in the first reading, prophet Malachi was addressing the perennial problem of good and evil in this world. Why should the evil doers prosper while the righteous suffer (Mal 3:13-15)? So the prophet spoke about the day of the Lord which would be that moment when God will reverse the fates of both groups. For the wicked, that great day will be a day of judgment and punishment but the righteous will be healed and comforted with eternal happiness (cf. Mal 3:19-20). However, the big question before us is: how are we to face the problems of our present life? How well are we prepared for that great day? The second reading presents before us the specific problem of the Thessalonian community that had grown out of the intense eschatological speculation, that is, they expected the imminent manifestation of the Lord’s Day and so they became proud, negligent, irresponsible and smug in their faith life, doing nothing. Therefore, St. Paul admonished them with love and exhorted them to be committed to their daily responsibilities, living their faith meaningfully and thus actively waiting for the Day of the Lord (cf. 2Thess 3: 10).
Sometimes this might be our own problems too. Yet, what is important is not the exact speculation and time table of the end time but a meaningful living of our faith in the present life. To be well prepared for the great day of the Lord is a call to consistency, perseverance and steadfastness in hope. Hence, we need to keep on renewing our faith life even at the face of constant struggles and live our present life joyfully. We can be prepared well and joyfully face the Day of the Lord if we take initiatives to build God’s kingdom of peace and justice in our society; if we keep watering the seed of love to grow and bear fruits of forgiveness and reconciliation in our homes and communities; if we continue to keep the light of our faith burning brightly and give light to the world around us; if our life and daily activities become the yeast to ferment changes and transformation in our personal life; and if we become the salt of the earth to bring meaning and value to human life, then we can actively and happily wait for that final Day of the Lord. Let our Eucharistic celebration inspire and motivate us to take seriously every moment of our life and learn to live our faith life responsibly and meaningfully by sharing life and blessings with people around us that we will be able to endure till the end and with our perseverance we will be able to face the Day of the Lord and share in his glory.
By Rev. Dr. A. Santhiyagu MSFS