33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
November 17, 2013
Next week we will celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King and then the weekend after that we will begin Advent. Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year in the church.
Before we can begin a new liturgical year, we must first end the current year. As we do so, our readings focus on the “end times.”
Jesus tells people about the destruction of the temple. They ask “when will this happen” and “what sign will there be.” We can ask these same questions about the Second Coming, the end of the ages.
They would seem like reasonable questions. Many people have tried to answer these questions from scriptures to predict a day.
Jesus tells us first there will be wars and insurrection, earthquakes, famines, and plagues. People try to match these up to actual historical events to predict when the “end” will come.
There have been earthquakes throughout history. There have been (and continue to be) famines. There have been plaques. There have been many wars and insurrections. There is too much of all of this.
Giving this, how anyone expects to predict when the “end” will come is beyond me. Why do we care what signs there will be? What are you going to do differently?
If I could guarantee for you that the “end” will come, say, on November 1, 2014, how would you change your life? Would you get ready now or would you put it on your calendar to start doing good a week before, doing whatever you wanted until then?
That would be wrong.
It doesn’t matter when the “end” is coming. The time to be Christian begins now. When I see “be Christian” I’m not just talking about baptism. I mean we must be Christian by the way we live our lives.
As a society, we are not doing well at this. We are in a downward spiral of values.
Because we are following the wrong examples! We talk about freedom and that the gift it is. We take it to mean we can do whatever we want so we do what brings us pleasure.
We live in a society that wants instant gratification. So, we look for what gives immediate pleasure. The problem is that sometimes the immediate pleasure doesn’t last and can be sin. God can give us an eternal pleasure in heaven.
What do we need to do to have “eternal pleasure?”
We need to seek to do God’s will. This means giving up the instant pleasures that are sinful to seek a greater good.
Does this mean giving up our freedom to just do what God wants? It is not about “giving up” our freedom. The point is to make good choices with the “freedom” we have.
How do we know what it is that God wants us to do?
We can read the Bible. We can attend faith formation sessions. We can read spiritual material. We can also follow good Christian examples.
What does Paul say? “Imitate us.”
Paul is not bragging. Ultimately, Jesus is the example we must follow but we look to the examples of people around us.
As we look to people around us for examples, we need to ask ourselves, are these people making good choices. If not, DON’T IMITATE THEM.
I hope none of us wants to imitate another because of bad things they do but we might fall into the same pattern as them if we are not careful.
We must also think of the example we are ourselves to other people. Here I think of a parent and a child. I sometimes see a parent that tells us a child not to do something that is bad and then goes and does it themselves. What kind of example is that?
So as you think about what it means to be Catholic, do you see yourself as a leader or a follower? Maybe we need a little bit of both. We need to be a follower of Jesus and a leader of people to faith.