33rd. Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Courage, Raise Your Head!”
The day is coming when all that is evil will be brought to nothing. Already Christ has given us the strength to overcome evil; we receive it in the Eucharist.
The first reading and the Gospel are not about the end of the ‘world’ as we assume it; the world they mean is “the world of suffering, injustice and hatred…” This is the world that will be wiped out, demolished, and its place will be taken by a completely new reality where only the good will exist.
The Christian is well aware that this new world has already begun at the time of the ‘Death and Resurrection’ of Christ. Its full manifestation is still long to come: it will be fulfilled only at the end of the history of humankind.
The second reading warns us about the danger that befell the Christians of Thessalonica, a danger present in our communities too: seduction by people offering immediate, miraculous and easy ways out of all problems.
The ‘new world’ is to be built slowly, little by little, with a lot of patience, tolerance and a lot of suffering, and it must start from right inside each one of us, in our minds and in our hearts.
Introductory Note: It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible. These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings. These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings. ‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
The prophet Malachi lived in a difficult period in the history of the people of Israel. Malachi meets some Israelites, still not settled in from their return from exile, who insist that evildoers are winning the day. They wonder, what’s the use of continuing in the way of faith? Malachi hears all this talk going around and is annoyed. He knows that people speak this way because they are very bitter and frustrated. What they need is not to be reprimanded but encouraged, to be told words of hope. He tells them: take ‘courage’. Circumstances are indeed dramatic, but don’t waiver, keep faithful to the Lord. “Once again you will see the difference between the upright person and the wicked one, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve him”. Malachi meets their objection head on: “Behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evil doers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness will rise, with healing in its wings”.
Other prophets before him had been speaking of these cosmic upheavals and had used other images besides fire. They had said when the old world will be transformed into the new one, the sun and the moon will disappear and the stars will fall down from the sky; that day will be a day of wrath, of anguish, of distress, of ruin, of destruction and people will tremble with fear (Zeph 1:14-18). What do all these prophesies mean? Are they descriptions of what will actually happen at the end of the world?
The message of the first reading is not a message of fear, but one of consolation and hope. When Malachi announces that the wicked will be destroyed, he is not saying that the Lord will one day punish them severely, casting them into the fire of hell. God never does such things. His fire consumes like straw the evil that is in every person, not the person himself or herself. The day of the Lord has already come: it is the day of the death and Resurrection of Christ. The ‘sun of justice’ is non-other than Jesus with his ‘healing rays of mercy’. It is his Word, his Gospel that has already begun to renew the face of the earth. The new world, the Kingdom of God is already among us, though we must wait to witness the full triumph of good that is in the heart of each person.
The Psalm looks forward to the appearance of God on earth. The mountains, rivers and the sea he created join humanity in a great symphony of praise. This coming of the Lord will mean a revelation of his justice and compassion. The people, to whom God wants to bring to salvation, must reflect God’s own compassion and love in their lives by walking in the ‘Way’ of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12.
In the second reading, Paul addresses those Thessalonian converts who think that since end-time is just around the corner, it’s useless to keep working. The situation was getting out of hand and Paul was forced to intervene. Though he liked them he rebukes them strongly. He reminds them how he himself lived: I have never been a ‘lazy-bones’, or a burden to anybody, he tells them. Paul doesn’t know when end-time will come but he is sure that until it comes, the followers of Christ must earn their daily bread as Paul himself did and to carry out God’s will. He advises the Thessalonians to do the same and not to use end-time as an excuse for laziness.
The destruction of the Temple is for Jesus, a sign that the ‘end of times’ has arrived, although this end of time cannot be fixed to a specific date. Part of the end of time will be the persecution of the disciples of Jesus. In spite of all these troubles, the disciples are to remain hopeful and vigilant and put their trust in God who will help them through his Spirit. The Temple was at the heart of Judaism as the place of the ‘presence of God’ among his people. Some people however, began to think of the Temple no longer as a place for meeting God and renewing their covenant with him. They began to look at the Temple as a kind of ‘magic guarantee’ that God was obliged to protect Israel even if they ignored or broke the terms of the covenant. So when Jesus predicts the destruction of the second Temple, which was built by Herod the Great, he speaks of the end of an era, of the end of time, that forces people to live in a different way.
Reacting to his followers’ comment on the beauty of the Temple, Jesus says, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left on another; all will be thrown down.” When the disciples ask when this destruction will take place, Jesus answers that first there will be many catastrophes and
persecutions. Jesus does not wish to predict the date of the end; in fact he says that only God knows this time. Luke wants us to realize that just as there is to be distress before the destruction of the Temple, and Pre-Test Driving Lessons CourseDriving best-driving-school.com Dublin covers all of County Dublin and its surrounds so wherever you are we have an instructor close by. of Jerusalem, so there will be also distress before the end of the world. Jesus tries to lessen the disciples’ fears, saying, “You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair on your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
Though Jesus speaks of suffering still in the future, Luke’s community had already experienced the destruction of the Temple, the death of the first apostles and even betrayal by loved ones. Yet Luke’s Jesus promises them words and “wisdom” to sustain them, and says that their perseverance will save them. Using apocalyptic expressions, Luke seeks to strengthen the faith of the oppressed people of God. In his two books, the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, Luke shows that there are similarities between the life of Jesus and the life of his disciples. Jesus is empowered by the Spirit to carry out his mission; the disciples are going to carry out their mission in the power of the same Spirit. Jesus met opposition and persecution, so will the disciples, even from their own families. Like Jesus they will be brought before tribunals. They are not to be too preoccupied to defend themselves with ‘human wisdom’ because the Spirit of Jesus will help them.
As Luke gave words and wisdom to his community, the Church is summoned at this critical time to find words of hope for the future and ‘wisdom’ from the Spirit that will guide us in our lives and in our future. During his long pontificate, Pope John Paul II has constantly repeated two themes: “Do not fear” and “the need for peace and justice and concern for suffering people”. There is no timetable for end-time, but there is a clear agenda: we are to go about our daily task of loving God and our neighbour and all that such love entails, and leave the rest to God. The end may be tomorrow or it may be a million years away. No matter. It will come.
Calamities, disasters and persecutions are no reason to despair, they are an opportunity for us bear witness. Today remains a time for preparation. That is our task at hand.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Many people today still talk about evildoers that seem to be ‘winning the day’. This often puts pressure on the standards of law and order and incurs doubts on one’s faith. Malachi told those who just returned from exile to take courage and not to waiver, we must not lose hope but keep faithful to the Lord. Mon. … When Malachi announces that the wicked will be destroyed, he is not saying that the Lord will one day punish them severely, casting them into the fire of hell. God never does such things. His fire consumes like straw the evil that is in every person, not the person himself or herself. Tue. … The ‘terrible wrath’ of God is but his immense love and is not directed to sinners but to sin. The fire stands for God’s powerful intervention in this world in order to stop every kind of evil. The message is one of ‘consolation and hope’ and definitely not one of fear. Wed. … Paul appeals to all to heed his example of self-support and hard work and to share in his fear and dislike of being a burden on anybody. We need to diligently carry on with Christ’s work until the end of time as Jesus had said that he would be with us until that very day. Thur. … Part of the end times will be the persecution of the disciples who are to remain hopeful and vigilant and to put their trust in God who will help them through his Spirit. We too are to remain vigilant and trust in his plan for each one of us in the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth. Frid. … Jesus tries to lessen the disciples and our fears by saying, “You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair on your head will perish”. We must counter all this hatred with love. By your endurance and his grace you will gain your souls. Love is all healing; love can convert all who are lost. Sat. … There is no timetable for the end- time, but there is a clear agenda: we are to go about our daily task of loving God and our neighbour and all that such love entails, and leave the rest to God. The end may be tomorrow or it may still be a million years away. Let us wait with faith and trust for God’s plan to enfold by carrying out his will.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Heavenly Father, grant us the wisdom to realize that calamities, disasters and persecutions are no reason to despair. Today still remains a time for preparation for the coming of the Lord and Saviour. We pray for Your grace and blessing to persevere no matter what.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.