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Contents: Volume 2 - The Thirtieth Third Sunday of Ordered time -C- November 17, 2019


 

The

33rd

SUNDAY

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 33 C

Both the first and second readings about the end times might well be descriptions of soon-to-be current events. Though not so, couldn't you visualize the headlines: Disaster is imminent!!!!! These readings are meant to help us reflect on how better to live our lives in hope so that when the final days or our own final day on earth do/does arrive, we won't be in such a panic.

I have taken to avoid too much screen time and print media these days because, as my grand daughter says, "all the news seems so bad." She is just 11 and only gets to see reasonable snippets!! It is hard not to keep up, at least minimally, however, in order to stay involved and care about ourselves and those we love.

So what do we do? Hopeful prayer the answer! In the first reading, we are told " for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays." In the meantime, healing rays can be found sitting before the Blessed Sacrament.

Life is so busy, we say. Sure, but the following by "belovegivelove.com" caught my eye when I was ironically on line a little too long: "You say you don't have time for Me, but yet, you keep on scrolling. God". Now instead of one last look online before I turn my phone off at night, I make my "one last" be another prayer.

In the Gospel selection according to Luke, we hear/read: "By your perseverance you will secure your lives." What holy things will help us to persevere? Lord, please be with us and guide us!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Thirty Third Sunday of Ordered Time November 17, 2019

Malachi 3:19-20; Responsorial Psalm 98; 2nd Thessalians 3:7-12; Gospel Acclamation Luke 21:28; Luke 21:5-19

The readings this Sunday come as a sort of final warning. Malachi pulls no punches. Those who have chosen to live their gift of life harming others and the earth will disappear without a trace. Those whose lives are centered on themselves in self-pride that considers no one their equal will face the truth of their lives. There is nothing, no fruit produced by their lives and they are without roots or branches. Their gift of life has been wasted. They are stubble in a harvested field. It is burned off to clear the field for the next planting. In the process, weeds and harmful insects are also cleared. The Malachi reading is only two verses but should grab our attention and turn us toward an evaluation of how we’ve lived the year we’re going to finish with next Sunday’s liturgy. Has our year been a waste? What growth of spirit can we look to as the fruit we’ve produced this past year? Is our granary full of the fruit of a life well-lived?

The gospel looks at the finality of life from a different perspective. Jesus warns us that there will always be tumult and nation fighting nation. There will be natural cataclysms that shake our confidence in the solidity of nature. Storms, earthquakes, floods, and wild fires will come. Even the great temple reconstructed by King Herod will be leveled. That did happen in 70 when the Romans put down an insurrection.

The warning applies to our day as well. We are foolish if we put our trust and our hope in the workings of men. It seems humanity is always at war with itself. It seems that there are always those who would tear up "paradise and make it a parking lot." The warning tells us not to fear all these terrors. Those who follow in the way He has shown us will be persecuted. Lies will be presented as truth. Discord as development. Hatred as love. Thieves will be spoken of as honest men. Adulterers as upstanding citizens. Mammon will be erected as the god who controls everyone’s fate. And lives of children – born and unborn – as without dignity, worth, or rights. Beauty will be soiled by exploitation. And all life will be valued by wealth that is the sacrament of consumption.

Both the reading from Malachi and from Luke’s Gospel point out of human life. We come to trust nature only to suddenly be caught by the horror of terrible storms or of sudden and devastating shifts of tectonic plates. We become complacent in the belief that our national constitutions are permanent and unshakeable. We trust our political and religious leaders. Yet were we to pay attention to our studies of world history we’d realize the downfalls of many grand and apparently permanent empires occurred at the hands of that leadership. The Assyrian empire, the Egyptian empire, the Babylonian empire, the Persian empire, the Greek empire and the Roman empire have all failed. Each empire gave way to succeeding empires. Each succumbed to corruption in the ranks of leadership. How terrible was the fall of the great Roman Empire whose legions protected the empire from the raids and ravaging of Barbarians! Yet even the great empire of Rome collapsed under the weight of its own corruption. The Goths, the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Vandals, and finally the Huns overran those legions which lost its discipline and became made up of mercenaries. The fragility of human institutions is historically victimized by corruption. Even our two thousand year old church has been shaken by financial and managerial corruption and disturbingly by child abuse and the cover-up of that abuse by the hierarchy.

Yet the message of Jesus is that death and decline is not the end of his mission. As followers of Jesus we find our salvation in faith in his message and the outpouring of the love of God for us. In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus insists that he will be with us through all these terrors and waves of corruption. This presence does not free us from resisting what is evil. This presence of Jesus and the Spirit assist us as we work to bring about the Kingdom of God here and now. Jesus warns us this week – as does Malachi – that we are more than what happens to us. We have within us the presence of Jesus and the Spirit to assist us and to help us endure the test.

This is a time to reconsider what is important. This is a time to review our situation and consider what we hold as precious. This is the time to wash away what our social, political, and economic culture has done and does to soil and rob our characters of its dignity and worth. This is the time to put aside the trappings of evil and reach into the depths of our person and polish up the image of God we reflect. It is time to clean that mirror that is our spirits and reflect yet again the light of the living God to a world in great need. It is time to establish the Kingdom of Heaven once again in truth, in hope, in faith, and in love and appreciation for all we’ve been given.

Next Sunday – we celebrate the Kingdom brought by the Son of God.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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PERSEVERING IN FAITH, TRUST, AND LOVE: 33RD SUNDAY C

Jesus is speaking about the future. What his first listeners hear him saying is grim stuff – real doom and gloom. As we listen in to what he says we must ask ourselves how much of his message is meant for us too. Where is the hope in what he says? Is there any hope in what he says?

Jesus is responding to a group from the Fine Art Society of Jerusalem discussing the beauty of the Temple building. They are entranced by the splendour of the edifice and the magnificence of its decorations. But Jesus responds to their pride about the Temple with thundering words. He says that Jerusalem is heading for total destruction and the rest of the world for disaster. This is just what happened to Jerusalem with one exception. When the Roman general Titus in the year 70 destroyed the city and the Temple, he ordered that a wall should be left standing for the Jewish people to mourn the loss of their sacred site. That ‘Wailing Wall’ is still there.

The first disaster for the wider world that Jesus warns against is the arrival on the scene of deceivers. They make out that they are saviours, and pretend to know the ultimate secret – when will the world end? Out of sheer fear some people believe them.

It is more difficult to follow the advice of Jesus not to be frightened by wars and revolutions. In a world with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, surely it’s a challenge not to be frightened by the sheer idiocy of some unpredictable leader who wants to launch a nuclear strike which would wipe out a swathe of cities and regions. In the time of Jesus, wars and battles were limited by the weapons available. Today we are feeling threatened with ‘weapons of mass destruction’. They are so lethal that they could end up destroying the whole earth, our shared home.

Jesus goes on to mention earthquakes, plagues and famines. For thousands of people these are still regular features of life and the causes of indescribable suffering. We cannot measure the extent of human loss on the Richter scale. For all the advances in science and medicine, there are still epidemics of incurable diseases. With the globe getting warmer and warmer, there are more famines than ever before, and there are still thousands and thousands of people going hungry or starving to death. For millions of people such disasters do mean the end, even though they don’t mean the end of the entire world.

Jesus adds that his followers will be persecuted for their beliefs. In fact he never suggests that following him will be painless and bloodless. He suggests rather that their sufferings will give his followers an opportunity to witness to their faith and trust in him. Down the centuries Christians have revered the memory and prayers of those men and women who have valued their faith more than life itself, and who have refused to change their commitment to Christ and the Christian way of life for the sake of their own survival. They have lived the truth of the words of Jesus. They have also lived the pattern of his life, a life that ended with his cruel passion and death.

The last item on the list of Jesus’ warnings is betrayal. He warns his followers that they cannot always count on their own families to understand them and support them in their commitment to Christ. This really does sometimes happen. On becoming Christians particular people are shown the door by their very own families, who never speak to them again, and have nothing more to do with them. For their becoming Christians, ever afterwards they are treated like orphans. Paying this price for their relationship with Christ, then, is a very high price and an extremely painful one.

On coming to the end of this list of possible disasters for persevering in faith, surely we feel that it’s time to look for comfort and reassurance. There is comfort in the fact that Jesus has told us before it happens that living our faith in him will at times be very painful. Living among people who do not believe in God, and living among those who sneer and jeer at those who do, is hard to take. It takes much courage to persevere, and the courage that we need to stay faithful is a grace from God, a real blessing.

A poet wanting to portray the blindness of society to the questions that confront us used this image: -

We picnic at the edge of the precipice

With our backs to the abyss.

Jesus asks us to face the abyss, but face it with faith.

Many good people lose their faith when they see the amount of evil and suffering in the world. They cannot observe the pointless suffering of so many and still believe in a God who cares. They cannot look into the eyes of a starving child e.g. and still praise God. They know that no one chooses to die from famine. They know that no one wants to be blown up by a stray bomb or a drone, and yet these things keep happening.

Their questions are our questions too. There are no ready answers to such questions. There are times when all our faith can do is to hang on, to endure. That is what Jesus says in the gospel today. He has no quick answers either. He just calls on his followers to endure, in spite of all the horror and all the suffering that may come their way.

If we had the answers, our faith wouldn’t have to endure. But because the questions are still with us, still unanswered, still unresolved, let us pray for ourselves and one another, for a faith that endures, a faith that perseveres, and a faith that lasts till the very end of the dark night!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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