Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

I am pretty sure that you have noticed that the shopping centers are ready for Christmas. Two weeks from now the season of Advent will begin. That's when the preparations really should start. Since Advent is about the two comings of Christ, in Bethlehem and at the end of time, the readings this week and next week, actually prepare for Advent by speaking about the Second Coming and the end of the world[1].

In the second reading, from one of the earliest books of the Christian Scriptures, the Second Letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul confronts people who are passively expecting the Day of the Lord. They are sitting back, doing nothing, waiting for it to happen. Paul tells them to get to work building up the Christian community.

In today’s Gospel, from Luke, Jesus speaks directly about the end of time. He uses apocalyptical language, the language of the Book of Revelation[2] and Jesus told the disciples that the Temple would be torn down, because all material things come to an end sooner or later.  Then the disciples asked the big question, the question that so many people want to know: When? Every year self proclaimed prophets come out of the woodwork telling people that they have an answer to this question.  Every year newspapers carry advertisement from materialistic self proclaimed prophets with supposed reasons why the world is coming to an end in a few days, months or years.

So, Jesus says in today's Gospel, Don't fall for anyone telling you when the end of the world is coming: whether it is a priest or a preacher, a self proclaimed prophet or a spiritual writer, don't fall for it.

Our Lord absolutely refuses to say when the end of time will come.  All He will tell us is that there are signs of the end. Jesus' point is that his true followers should not be concerned about when the end is, they should only be concerned that they are ready for the end so they can take it in stride.

And that is what is at the heart of the apocalyptical predictions of the end of time. We need to have a lifestyle that is a continual stride to the Lord. Any coach will tell you that you don't reach your goal of a fast time or winning an award with a sudden burst of speed at the beginning of the race or a huge sprint at the end.  You achieve your goal through a constant strong stride throughout the race. It is the same regarding our preparations for the end of time and the end of our own personal time, the end of our lives. 

We achieve our goal with the constant steady pace towards God. It is pace, it is Christian lifestyle that puts us into position to win the spiritual award, not sudden burst of speed when we are miles behind the pack.

Yes the world will come to an end, but we have no cause for panic.  Only those who ignore the Lord, the people Malachi spoke to in his day and in our day, people of religious indifference and immoral lifestyles, need to panic. The rest of us should just ask ourselves: Am I ready for the end?  Is my pace good?  Am I striding towards my God? Do I need to pick up the pace a little bit particularly through confession and a renewed prayer life?

Today we pray for the courage to put God first in our lives, to make Him the goal of our existence, to strive towards Him throughout our lives, to pick up the pace whenever we can, and to be prepared

[1] Sunday 14th November, 2010, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Malachi 3:19-20. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice—Ps 97(98):5-9. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12. Luke 21:5-19.
[2] This is a language that is somewhere between prose and poetry. It is meant to stir up emotions, to get people involved. Jesus looks at the Temple.  The Gospel of Luke began in the Temple with the story of the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist to his father, Zachary, in the Temple as he served as a priest in the Holy of Holies.  The Temple was the place that Simeon and Anna rejoiced at the birth of Jesus and prophesied about His life and death.  Jesus was found in the Temple as an adolescent. In the Gospel of Luke, the Temple is the sight for Jesus' final teachings, of which today's gospel is a central part.  The Temple was the joy of the People of  Israel.  It's stones were inlaid with jewels.  The disciples marveled at it.  Jesus wept.  He said it would be torn down, as it was in the year 70 AD.  In fact, all that is left is the present wailing wall, which itself was not a wall, but a support structure, part of the foundation.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris