In two weeks our current liturgical year will draw to a close. Our gospel comes from a time shortly before Jesus’ Passion. He knows his time on earth will be coming to end soon. He wants to prepare his disciples. He speaks to them of “the end.”
The opportunity comes when the people ask him questions. “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen“
He warns them that before the end many will come in his name and offer false teaching. There are people today who, though Christian, offer teaching contrary to what Jesus teaches. “Do not follow them.“
They asked Jesus what signs there will be. Jesus replies by speaking of wars and insurrections that must happen first. That “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” He speaks of earthquakes, famines, and plagues that will all happen first. These things have happened.
People have used these signs as well as other verses in the Bible that speak of the end times to try and predict when the end will happen. Some have predicted a specific date. None of them have been correct.
We might like to know when the end will come. Why? Because we want to be ready. However, if we are good Christians, it doesn’t matter when the end (Second Coming) will happen? Why doesn’t it matter?
Because if we are good Christians, we will live each and every day as Christ teaches us. If we do that, we will be ready. Of course, we are not perfect. There we give thanks that we can confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive God’s forgiveness.
It will not be easy. Jesus goes on to speak of those who will “seize and persecute” us for our faith. They will hand us over to “kings and governors.” When we offer others the Truth that God offers, many don’t want to listen. They call us intolerant and accuse of hate speech. As Christians, we are not to speak of hate. We speak in love, offering truth. They speak of tolerance but they want to force us to go against our faith, like forcing bakeries to make cakes celebrating events that go against our faith. We pray for the gift of courage from the Holy Spirit that we persevere in living our faith. Only when we persevere in our faith are we ready for the Second Coming.
It is in our perseverance that we give testimony. Our first reading from Malachi is just two verses. The context is a time when the people are wondering if it is useless to serve God. Why? Because they see how evildoers are prospering. In today’s passage, the Lord assures them, “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire.” The evildoers will receive their punishment in Hell while those who fear the Lord will see the sun of justice arise with its healing rays. In persevering in our faith, we give testimony that we believe in what God has done for us and promises us in the future.
Trust in what the Lord offers in eternal life.
When we live our faith in this world, we may be hated for our faith. It may not be just strangers who had us over. It might be our own parents, children, siblings, relatives, or friends that hand us over. This makes it all the harder. Do you have family or friends who tell you to keep silent about your faith? Do you feel rejected for your faith? Don’t take it personally! Hand it over to Jesus for it is him who they are really rejecting.
Ask God to help you persevere.