33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 13 November 2022 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Malachi 3:19-20; Responsorial: Psalm 98; II: II Thessalonians 3:7-12; Gospel: Luke 21: 5-19
This weekend we enter the final two weeks of Ordinary Time. Next Sunday the Solemnity of Christ the King will help us focus on the eternal Truth that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This both culminates the liturgical year that is passing and anticipates the joyful anticipation of Advent. This feast of our faith also would remind us that the reign of God is victorious and eternal. The times, the challenges, and the changes we encounter in our day-to-day journey are but holy grace moments in eternity.
But it is rather easy to write or say such things, as truthful as they may be. And for anyone encountering struggles of life or simple weariness of the stuff and bother of our days it can sound like so many empty platitudes. As real as the issues and challenges we face how do we know and enter into the reality of eternal graces found in trusting and confessing Jesus Christ as our God, Savior, and Lord?
Again, as always God, the Holy Spirit gives us light and insight in Scripture so that we may learn and grow in the power and victory of Christ our King, even in the midst of sorrow or loss.
Our first reading from the book of the Prophet Malachi speaks of those times that have occurred and will occur in the last days of the holy purging graces of the fire of God. Spoken to the people of God it is a reminder that we must heed in our lives that which is eternal and that which is temporal. Many are the needs and, truthfully, the desires of our life in this world. Companionship, home, hearth, clothing, food, health, and prosperity are all good blessings from God. But they also can become excesses and even idols that clutter and deter us in our journey with He who walked away victorious from the tomb. Malachi reminds us that while these THINGS of life may be good they will not last. They are not eternal. And that the cleansing fires of God’s love will lead us to that, and to who is eternal.
“The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice! So proclaims the antiphone to our psalm for today. We are reminded how all of creation praises and glorifies God, our Lord, and King. Many are the cruel injustices afflicted upon creation and humanity by both worldly forces and even in the name of God. The psalm, God’s Word would seem to be absurd in the harsh meanness of life. But it is the very praises we bring to God, in the middle of our storms or droughts, that free us to know that our God reigns! When we dare to remind Satan he is just a liar and Jesus, our King, and God is The Truth that we enter into the peace, and power of God’s Kingdom.
Our next reading from St. Paul’s second letter to the Church at Thessalonica while the reign of Christ our King, is that even our preparations for His return are vital we are to be a people of faithful love and work this side of eternity. Too often people have been so distracted by perceptions of faith that they neglect the graces and tasks we are all called to share in the present. As Paul stated if we want to eat we need to work. It has been said that we cannot be so heavenly-minded to be no earthly good. This truth is essential to apply as we seek our coming King. A global example for us all is the temptation to disregard the perils of climate change and the unjust, destructive practices on the earth, our common home. Our faithful love and care for creation, our realization of how we must all work, together, for the just good of all is essential. If we truly believe Jesus is King and Lord of our Heavenly home then should we not be showing Him proper reverence and care of our earthly home? Why would Christ want to see the destructive practices we have honed, here on earth ever approach Heaven?
Jesus in the Gospel for this day would bring to the center of our hearts the practical, spiritual principles we need as we seek Christ, the King who comes. This is one of the intense dialogues he has with his disciples shortly before his passion. He reminds the faithful of all the ages of the tribulations and sorrows that must occur as a part of God’s efforts to turn men and women from sin to the Savior. We are all familiar with these trials as we look at the news about us. As we seek to follow God’s Kingdom of holy love we will be confronting the many domains of hate and discord permeating the very existence of many. Great can be the temptation to ask, to wonder, Where is our Lord? Why, how, is God’s dominion so difficult to experience? But our victorious King provides four standing orders for the FAITHFUL to follow: Do not be deceived, Do not fear, Testify for God, and Persevere with Him.
Do Not Be Deceived! In these times many are the deceptions that flourish and fly around us. It is essential that we grow in the Holy Spirit-led graces of discernment needed every day. We must grow stronger in the Word of God and in the full and whole teachings of the Church. We must recognize that while we are in this world we are not of it and to equate our faith with politics or a politician is very perilous. We must always remember The Spirit of God will always lead us closer to Jesus and the life of holy, merciful welcoming love for which we are called and created.
Do Not Fear! The hate, the doubts, and the fears of this world are well able to infect the church. But they cannot reign. We must remember that there is no fear in love but mature love casts out all fear. Jesus, our King was never afraid to welcome, share, and visit with the sick, the sinner, or the fallen. In love we were welcomed to follow him in the joys of penance and faith in which we are freed to grow in God, our King who is love.
Testify for God! The Beloved Disciple in receiving the great prophetic book of Revelation tells us they (the faithful) overcame him (the accuser, satan) by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. In our Eucharistic reception and love for Christ in Holy Communion and in our personal testimony, our witness of God’s graces we are sharing with others the living Gospel of today. And it is in our sharing we experience The power and Presence of the Holy Spirit who gives us the wisdom and love we need to share, even in the midst of hate, ignorance, and unbelief.
Persevere! The celebration and eternal realities of Christ our King are a quest. God’s reign can well be encountered in holy moments. The celebration of the Mass, whispers from the Spirit of God as we read God’s Word, sensing God’s peace in prayer can be true, real, and holy moments with God. But the reign of Christ, King of Kings can never be contained in our feelings, understanding, or experience. Those are but moments of God urging us to persevere with and for Him.
CHRIST the KING COMES! As we grow into this opportunity to better seek and prepare for Christ and His kingdom may we invest in and yield to the empowering Spirit of God in our prayers in all our actions.
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