33rd Sunday in ordinary time year C

End times and new beginnings

Readings: Mal 3,19-20; Ps 98, 5-9; 2 Thess 3,7-12; Lk 21, 5-19

The word of God on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year C invites us to be prepared for the end of time as well as for a new beginning that God is giving us. Amidst all adversities of life, we are called to perseverance trusting that God remains in charge.

The prophet Malachi is a real messenger of preparation for judgement. Those who fear God will certainly come ahead of those who surrender to the spirit of the world. God promises to uproot evil - doers from the earth and the “sun of justice” will bring healing to those who trust in God.  Let us imagine the end of the Liturgical Year as a time of harvest. We have been given a full year to grow and be cultivated by the word of God and the sacraments. Are we ready for the harvest? It may sound unfortunate but none can prepare for this harvest. The real test of readiness is the way we live in relationship to God and others every day. Let us pray that the prophecy of Malachi comes true especially through the bruises that our relationships have suffered through this year. And may the “sun of justice” shine on us all so that we can see what needs to be changed!

People react differently to news of an impending destruction. Some will flee, whereas others will urgently design a defence mechanism; some surrender, others resort to eating and drinking and merry making.  In Thessalonica, some of those who believed that the end times were near gave up their jobs and decided to relax, because they never say any meaning in their usual routines. Idleness and disorderly conduct, thus, threatened the Christian community and its mission. St. Paul writes to assure them that the second coming of Christ is not an excuse to opt out of human responsibility. Instead, the imminent return of Christ is all the more reason to work tirelessly and with purpose for the realization of the mission entrusted to them as a church, namely to proclaim the Gospel by word and example. It would be important to ask ourselves: “In what ways are you proclaiming the good news in your words, actions or relationships? What can we do better as labourers in the field awaiting God`s harvest?

The evangelist Luke presents Jesus making a startling prophecy.  It began when “some people were speaking about how the Temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings.”  To the Jews of Jesus’ day, the Temple was the clearest symbol of their long covenant with God as His people.  It was the place on earth where God and man literally met, an encounter that took place once a year in its inner chamber, the Holy of Holies.  On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter and make a sacrifice for the sins of the people, and God’s glory would come down and overshadow the “mercy seat” on the Ark of the Covenant as He accepted the offering and granted forgiveness (see Lev 16).  Over Israel’s long history, the Temple began to be revered as a sign that nothing would ever change God’s relationship with His people.  If God dwelt in their midst, how could they be anything but safe?  “The days will come when there will not be a stone left upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” We might have our own question:  Why would God allow the sacred symbol of the Temple to be destroyed?

In Jesus’ day, the Temple had actually become an empty symbol.  There was little rigor in the religion of the Jews; it had become largely externalized (remember Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple because it was meant to be a “house of prayer”).  In addition, the Temple sacrifices were never meant to be ends in themselves.  How could animal blood ultimately atone for human sin?  The Temple, with its beauty and sacred action, pointed toward something beyond itself.  When Jesus came in to the world, He came to be the human fulfilment of the animal sacrifices.  Innocent human blood would atone for human sin in the New Covenant He made with us.  By His Death and Resurrection, He became the new Living Temple of God, where God and man—all people, not just the Jewish high priest—meet.  Believers, as St. Peter tells us, are now being built as living stones in this spiritual Temple, the Mystical Body of Christ (see 1 Pet 2:5).  The Temple in Jerusalem was no longer necessary; it had served its purpose.

Whereas everything including the temple will pass away, the only thing that the disciples of Jesus will have any control over is their own testimony. This testimony will be characterized by the wisdom given to us by God. When time comes, those who have been fed by the word of God will have a word at their disposal to speak. Are we ready to give witness to what we really believe? What do we have to say about God, Jesus, the Church and the life of discipleship?

We may be experiencing what we could call “end times” in times of stress and strain. Some times when we feel that things are collapsing all around us as a nation or family or community; wherever we face this feeling that all is over and all is destroyed and there’s no going back and there’s no going forward, wherever we feel that we are tired, weary even of doing good, this is the time to remember the words of Jesus that God will triumph. Where we see an end, there may be God`s new beginning. Our perseverance in times of tribulation will win our lives!

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