THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers 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 revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Brothers and sisters:
You yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.
“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.
As we begin reading the Gospel, there is a discussion going on about the temple adornments and gifts dedicated to God. Jesus tells them that though the structure looks secure, it will be overthrown and torn down. He describes a time of chaos and war, lying signs and signs in nature, unrest and the earth quaking. The destruction of the temple of God is a sign that worship is going to be threatened. The disciples know that these things will happen but they just don’t know when they will happen.
The prophecy of Malachi describes only two sides. One is arrogant and evil, and the other is righteous. A time will come for judgment and the first group will be burnt up leaving only stubble. The latter who revere the name of God, will be healed.
This scenario is not one that anyone anticipates with joy. No one wants to be around for war, unrest, earthquakes and persecutions. But though instability is so very undesirable, there will still be the righteous remnant who revere God.
What will the disciples of Jesus be doing at such a time? They are being prepared to speak a word from the Holy Spirit to testify to the governors and the kings. They are becoming ready to be betrayed, like Jesus, by friends and relatives. They are ready to be hated and to not be afraid. They are aware that the immortal soul is more important than the body because God will raise their bodies.
These warnings are meant not only for the early Church but for us as well. We too, as disciples, need to be ready to speak the words of God, to give our testimony, and to not be surprised when people come against us, even if they are our own flesh and blood. We should not be afraid of those who persecute us or attack our faith.
There is work for us to do. We all have a part that is meant for us alone. As we approach the coming season of Advent, we concentrate on the coming of the Lord and what it means to us as believers. We are called to ignore the turmoil around us, continue to use our faith, and obey the voice of God. May we find this time productive so that souls may be saved and brought closer to the light of Christ.