17 November 2013 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

THE SUNDAY GOSPEL: THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

LUKE 21:5-19

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” 
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them! 
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.” 
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name. 
It will lead to your giving testimony. 
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. 
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, 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 on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

PASTOR’S REFLECTION by Father Mike Joly: THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

“Is God In Control or Not?”

False security is NO security. Living in denial DOES NOT make one’s fantasy world real. The “end times” certainly ought to be a sobering reality and on the radar of Millennials and those caught up as Generation X and Generation Y folks. But, if the end of time is not believable enough for recent distracted generations, we can at least grasp our own personal “end time.” As Scripture says, we will be on the planet for “seventy or eighty years for those who are strong” (Ps 90:10).

The final two Sundays of the Church’s worship cycle are upon us. They are intense. Advent is right around the corner. Our Scripture readings at Holy Mass are intended to be startling. “All that you see here — the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Luke 21:6).

I continue to be fascinated by the more and more secular culture boiling up around people’s ankles, rising up to their waists and necks until they freely seem to “enjoy” being submerged in the secular, and carried away by its dooming torrent. Here are some examples:

Catholics, who have the wisdom and the light of Christ’s Church to guide our moral development, have recently been called to vote in local elections. We were reminded of the intrinsic evils which make up the platforms of some running for office. An intrinsic evil is a deeply embedded evil at the very center of a moral issue: evils like abortion (willfully killing the unborn), or euthanasia (falsely referred to as “mercy-killing), embryonic stem cell research and human cloning (both of which create many human lives which are disposed of as garbage), and homosexual marriage (a human re-definition and manipulation of a God-created vocation) are contemporary examples. “When you hear of wars and insurrections do not be terrified; such things must happen first, but it will not be immediately the end” (Luke 21:9).

Baseball games, soccer games, tournaments of one kind or another often bring very large numbers of kids with their parents to stadiums, convention centers, to Disney and the like. They are swept up in the secular current. I am repeatedly approached by individual faithful people. They tell me how they are intimated to break out of the herd mentality of unfaithful worshippers which surrounds them to worship on the Sabbath. Others share how it is “very uncomfortable” to excuse themselves from the secular itinerary of the little or big athletes with their parents, in order to worship at Mass, yet they do break away and do that very thing. GOOD JOB!

“See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, “I am He” and “the time has come.”  — “Do not follow them!” Jesus is speaking about two things. He speaks of people promoting wrong teachings and false gospels. So do not follow misguided individuals whose opinions are filled with spiritual error and whose hearts are not open to the Truth of Christ preserved in His Church. But Jesus is also talking about forces bigger than individuals too. Beware of the pervasive mentality; beware of the spirit of secularism which numbs the spiritual sensitivity of human beings until they begin to worship their bellies and their agenda for earthly achievement. The massive collection of human beings creating the current environment are not bad people (for the most part). They are, on the contrary, quite good people who live quite lost.

Here is another one. Men, women and youth who step up into leadership roles as retreat-team members often experience great intimidation, paralysis and fear when it comes to reaching out to people around them. They are afraid of being rejected, fearful of subhuman repercussions by coworkers or classmates who they invite on retreats. It’s true. They MUST reach out! You MUST reach out! The priest is not the sole proclaimer of the Gospel; he is the “soul” proclaimer which shepherds all of the other proclaimers. If evangelization does not happen then the Kingdom is thwarted.

We would like to think that we are in control. Of course, we are not. The frenzied question put to Jesus as to “When” will the end be, and “What sign will there be when all these things are about to happen” (Luke 21:7), these are futile attempts for us to grasp at some sort of control. Yet, God is in control, NOT US! The spirituality aware person sees how “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” He/she experiences earthquakes, famines, plagues, mighty signs from the sky” and the like, but realizes that God is in control. Families on vacation put God FIRST in their priority to worship. Retreat-team members draw on this God’s love and certainly as they reach out to invite their peers. And you are blessed to know Christ redeeming you, and through you, redeeming your corner of the world.