33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
November 13, 2016
Our readings this week continue on the theme of what the End Times will be like. The question presented this week is when will it happen. With this in mind, they ask, “what sign will there be”.
Jesus answers them by saying there will first be wars and insurrections, that nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. That there will be earthquakes, famines, and plagues. Lastly there will be “awesome sights and mighty signs from the sky.”
Well, let’s see. Wars and insurrections, nation against nation… well there is currently Syria and ISIS. There’s Iraq and Afghanistan. Before that there was Vietnam and Korea, World War I & II, and that is just the last hundred years. I think there has been enough wars to check that off the list Jesus gave.
Earthquakes, well, this year there has been the earthquakes in Italy where most of one town was wiped out. There was the devastating earthquake in Haiti a few years back. Further back, there has been significant earthquakes in our own country, particularly on the west coast. So, I think we are also safe to cross earthquakes off the list.
Then Jesus listed famines. Well, there are some people who go hungry across the world but especially in some third world countries. So we can check off famines.
Then there is plagues. One might think of Ebola, Zika, or the bird flu. If you want really big, there was the Black Plague in the 14th Century. So we can check plagues off too.
That just leaves “awesome sights and mighty signs from the sky” but that’s not a sign the Second Coming is close. That’s what’s going to happen at the Second Coming.
Actually, there is one more thing Jesus talks about before the Second Coming, persecution. While in our country we are not executed for our faith today, we can be ridiculed for our faith. People try to force us to do things contrary to our faith. For instance there are people who want to make doctors perform abortions and make pharmacists provide contraception and abortifacients. There are even people today who talk about making all, including Catholic hospitals, provide physician-assisted suicide.
There can be no doubt that it can be a challenge to live out our faith. It might seem like the simplest thing to do is to be quiet about our faith. We might say we’ll do anything to keep the peace. Keeping quiet might seem the easiest way to keep the peace but Jesus doesn’t call us to keep quiet. He calls us to give testimony to our faith.
What kind of testimony is silence?
Sometimes we do need to pick and choose our battles. Yet, keeping silent isn’t the best solution. The problem with keeping silent is that if we never say anything, then people tend to assume we agree with them.
Am I telling you should into arguments, not necessarily. Sometimes the best thing we can do when a group of people we are with talks about something we disagree with is to simply say, “I disagree” or “that’s not what I think.” If they ask what we think, then we can say more, if not, at least we have given testimony that we don’t disagree.
We might not want to say anything out of fear of being ridiculed for our beliefs but maybe there is another reason we don’t want to speak up. Maybe we are afraid that they will ask us questions about what we believe and we don’t feel like we can answer them. Maybe that just means we need to put some/more effort into learning why we believe what we do.
Do we want to learn more? There is a saying “ignorance is bliss.” We are also taught that there are three criteria for something to be a mortal sin. It must be something grave. We must know it is a sin and lastly we must consent. The second, knowing it is a sin, might fit nicely with “ignorance is bliss.” If we don’t know, we aren’t culpable in the same way. The problem with that is that if we choose to not know, then we sin. Our Church says we must follow our conscience but it also says we must make the effort to have a well-formed conscience. Do we?
One last point – to go back to when I started, I never told you when the Second Coming might happen. We might all like to know so we can be ready. The simple answer to “when will the Second Coming happen” is that it doesn’t matter. The time to change our lives, to learn more about our faith is now. We are not called to live like Christians just before the Second Coming. We are called to live like Christ every day.
What do you need to work in your life to be able to give testimony?
What do you need to do to be ready?