Sunday Sermon for November 13, 2022, the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Readings: Mal 3:19-20a; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19

In the Gospel reading, our Lord tells His Apostles about the destruction of the Temple and, ultimately, the end of the world.  The Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70AD.  Along with the Temple, the entire city of Jerusalem was destroyed.  More than a million Jewish people were killed and the city was burned to the ground.  This is important for us to understand for two reasons.  First, Jerusalem is the only city in the ancient world to be burned to the ground.  Second, the destruction of Jerusalem is a prefiguration of what will happen at the end of the world.

This is also very important for us as Catholics because the fact that Jesus spoke of the Temple being destroyed such that there would not be a stone that was not thrown down might suggest to us that something similar could happen to the Church.  If this does occur, I would assume it be a place like the Vatican, not our local parish churches.  Regardless, we must brace ourselves for the destruction of the visible structure of the Church.  Even if this does happen, we must remember that our faith is in Jesus, not in human persons or in buildings.

Our Lord speaks also of wars and insurrections, powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues.  All of these have been happening since the beginning of the world, and they continue to happen to this day.  Therefore, these are not the signs to seek out.  Rather, it is the “awesome sights and mighty signs” that will be seen in the sky that would be more appropriate to look for.  So far, I have neither heard of nor seen anything that would fit this description.

What is, I think of great importance to remember, is that this is not the end of the world.  I think we are at the end of an era, which could imply seeing things that will be similar to, and prefigure, what will happen when the end of the world arrives.  This means it will be very difficult to live in those days.  It will be a “Day of the Lord.”  This refers to a time when God intervenes in the world.  From our perspective, that could appear as something good or as something bad.  God’s purpose is always good, but it sometimes requires going through some severe difficulties before we get to the part we would recognize as good.

Regardless of the situation, as we see in the first reading, God will be with us.  He tells us through the Prophet Malachi that there will be a time of divine intervention that will be blazing like an oven.  In this time, all those who are evildoers will be destroyed, but at the same time, He says: “For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”  So, even in the midst of what sounds like some horrible events taking place, the Lord will be working to bring healing to those who love Him.

Of course, to truly love the Lord means that it cannot be mere words; we must act upon the love we have for God.  The Church gives us in the second reading some direction for this.  St. Paul reminds the people of Thessalonica where the Apostles lived while they were among the people.  St. Paul says they did not live in a disorderly way.  More than that, he says they worked day and night so they would not burden the people in any way.

This reminds us of the parable of our Lord when the home owner left and was delayed in his return.  Jesus said if the servants were doing what they were supposed to be doing when the mater returned, they would be blessed, but if the servants were not doing what they were expected to be doing, they would be in trouble.  We need to be seeking, in all things, to do God’s holy will.  Many people say they do not know God’s will for them.  One can always be assured that obedience to the duties of one’s state in life is always the will of God. 

Beyond the duties of our state, St. Paul instructs us to keep busy, but not to be minding the business of others.  Therefore, he says, we are to work quietly.  It is always easier, and more interesting, to stick our nose into someone else’s business, but remember our Lord’s admonition to those we notice the splinter is someone else’s eye, but do not even notice the beam in their own eye.  If we are found doing our best to carry out God’s will, He will heal the beam in our eye.  Strive to do God’s will and His healing rays will arise for you!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.

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