Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) 11.17.2013

Today´s readings speak about the time that the world has left as well as the time that we have left. The prophet Malachi reminds us that the Day of the Lord is coming. In Sacred Scripture, The Day of the Lord refers to the last days of the world. In the Gospel Jesus speaks about the trials that will come before the end of the world, so as the Church year comes to an end, the readings speak about the end, the end of time[1]; a good topic to go deeper in our personal prayer time.

When we hear these readings we are tempted to dismiss them as something in the far future, something we most probably will not experience. Often we forget that the end of our own days will certainly come, and much sooner than any of us anticipates.

 Besides –Malachi and Jesus say- God will take care of all those who put him first in their lives. This is not limited to those who lay down their lives for God, the martyrs like Ignatius of Antioch and Agnes, Sebastian and Agatha, Isaac Jogues and Cecilia, although it is certainly referring to them. But the promise also is given to all who put the way of the Lord before the way of the world. You see, the way of the world is to seek vengeance on those who hurt us, to get them back in a manner they will never forget. Our Italian ancestors call this a vendetta.

This is not the way of the Christian. The way of the Lord is to forgive and move on. Love your enemies, we read Matthew 5, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount; many wags have added, “it will drive them crazy.”  It will drive them crazy because none of us expect to be loved by others as Jesus loves us. None of us are prepared to handle people who love us for no apparent reason.  But that is how Jesus loves us.  It is how he expects us to treat others.

Malachi concludes by saying, for you who fear my name, there shall arise the sun of justice with its healing rays. Justice belongs to the Lord. We will experience justice when He sees fit, not when we feel it needs to be shown. We very well may experience the one who hurt us doing well in the world and seeming to enjoy the blessings of God while living in a way that destroys the presence of the Lord. But God sees, God knows, and God will deal with the situation in due time, His time.

In fact, rather than wait for them “to get theirs,” we have been given the mandate to pray for those who persecute us. We are to pray for their conversion, their reform, before their opportunity to seek forgiveness comes to an end.  Whoa!  The Gospels tell us not just to love our enemies but to pray for them?  Yes! That is all part of picking up our cross and following the Lord. We are called to pray for that guy who mocks us and has turned us into the butt of all jokes at work. We are called to pray for that woman who made up a story about us, got us fired and took our job. The Gospels are telling us not to hold vendettas. They are telling us to pray for those who have hurt us. Our time on earth is limited. We have to make the best use of it.

Sure, we live in the turmoil created by those elements of the world that have rejected, or simply ignored the spiritual. The Day of the Lord will come for the world. We have a role in this. We are told by the Lord to give testimony to God and His way in our lives.  Is this difficult? You bet! Will those around us who love us, particularly our family and friends, question our actions? Probably. But, as the Gospel concluded, when we are questioned, we need to trust God to provide us with His answers. 

And always, always, no matter what the situation, no matter how intense the injury we suffer, we need to stand for the Lord. That is the way of the Christian. Jesus is our Savior. He saves us from the hatred that would destroy us.

Today we pray for the courage to live our Christianity ■

[1] 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time cycle C, November 17, 2013. Readings: Malachi 3:19-20A; Responsorial Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9; Reading II: 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Gospel: Luke 21:5-19. 

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