Today we celebrate the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. There are a total of 34 weeks in Ordinary Time (the remaining of the 52 weeks of the calendar are the seasons of Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas).
So, our liturgical year is coming to a close. In two weeks we will begin a new church year with the 1st Sunday of Advent.
You may know that our Sunday readings are on a three-year cycle. In Year A, we read predominantly from Matthew’s Gospel. Year B we read from Mark’s Gospel and in Year C we read from Luke’s Gospel. John’s Gospel comes up mostly during Lent and Easter each year.
During Ordinary Time, we read the gospel in order. Since we are coming to a close of our liturgical year, we are reading today from near the end of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus knows his Passion is coming and seeks to prepare his disciples for what is to come. For us, it symbolizes being ready for the Second Coming at the end of the ages.
Jesus speaks in the context of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. “They asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be?””
Jesus tells them there will be “wars and insurrections”. In the last 2,000 years since Jesus walked on Earth, there have been a lot of wars. Nations have risen against nations. We have seen this multiple times in just the last 100 years, let alone 2,000 years. The same is true for “earthquakes, famines, and plagues.”
So, the Second Coming could come at any time. Still, we might wonder when. After all, we want to be ready, right?
But what difference would it make if you knew the exact day of the Second Coming? If we knew for a fact that it would be tomorrow, I’m sure we would be in a hurry to repent and turn our hearts fully to God.
On the other hand, if we knew it won’t happen for 50 years, what would you do? Would you live 48 years doing whatever you wanted and then when the time comes close, repent and follow Jesus?
That is not what we are supposed to do. We are to live as good Catholics everyday. If we do that, we don’t have to worry about when the Second Coming will happen.
Just this past week there was another school shooting in California. Children killing children. Is the violence we see in our world today a sign that the end is coming soon. I don’t know.
I believe society is on both a spiritual decline and moral decline. If we try to stand up for what we believe in, people may ridicule us but we shouldn’t be surprised by that. Jesus told us that “they will seize and persecute” us and that we “will be hated by all because” of his name.
The ridicule might come from individuals. It might even come from the government saying you can’t talk about things we feel are wrong. There are those in society and in government who even want to force medical professionals to offer procedures like abortion and operations to change a person’s physical sex. This is not God’s plan.
Whatever struggles we face in our lives, as Jesus says, “It will lead to your giving testimony.” We are not to cause fights but we give testimony to what and how much our faith means to us in the way we respond to our struggles. Sometimes God uses our struggles to help us turn our lives to him. God can change suffering into opportunity.
As to our “giving testimony”, it might begin with something as simple as wearing a Cross or another religious symbol (scapular, saint medal, etc.) as a sign that we believe in Jesus.
How about a printed t-shirt or a sweatshirt with a Christian message on it? It might take some courage but it is a good thing to do.
It may not be easy but “giving testimony” is what the saints and martyrs have been doing for centuries. Paul speaks of how he wanted to present himself as a model for us.
Do you have someone in your family who is a model of faith for you? You know, the person who always goes to church. The one you ask to pray for you. Do you try to imitate them?
Now, who are you a model for? Your children? Co-workers? Neighbors? Are you a good model? Someone has to be the first to do good.
None of us is perfect. That’s why Jesus came to die for us. Being a good Christian isn’t always easy. We are never ready on our own. We can’t save ourselves but Jesus can and does. May we have the grace we need to follow Jesus and to be an example to others.