Fr. Jolly’s Homily for Sunday, November 17, 2019

33 Sunday in OT- C LK 21: 5-19

Theme: this is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, and so the Church is coming to the end of our liturgical year. Next weekend is the Solemnity of Christ the King, which finishes off the Sundays in the season of Ordinary Time, and then it’s on to the new liturgical year with Advent. Through the readings which focus on end timings our Lord is inviting to set priorities, don’t get distracted but stay focused, and grow in Holiness!

The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each act is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager appears on the stage, apologizing for the interruption.  He announces at the top of his voice that the theater is on fire, and pleads his patrons to leave the theatre immediately without causing a commotion. The spectators think that it is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again feverishly implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire races through the whole building engulfing the fun-loving audience with it. “And so,” concludes Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators?” (Resource, July/August). Today’s readings warn us about a similar fate if we are not well prepared when the “Day of the Lord” dawns quite unexpectedly, marking the end of the world.

The central theme of today’s readings is “The Day of the Lord” or the “Second Coming” of Jesus in glory as judge at the end of the world. They warn us about the final days of the world, our own death and the final judgment.  Malachi in the first reading foretells this Day, which will bring healing and reward for the just and retribution for the “proud and all evil doers.” Although Paul expected to be alive at the return of Jesus, he cautions the Thessalonians in the second reading against the laziness with which some of them were anticipating the end. He suggests that the best preparation for the future is to devote the attention to present duties, to maintain a holy and wholesome balance between prayer and service, and to develop enduring family ties and values. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is prophesying three endings: 1) the end of his public life, 2) the destruction of Jerusalem temple, and 3) the end of the world.   The scripture passage clarifies that the date of the end of the world is uncertain.  Signs and warning will precede the end, but we always need to lead a life of expectation. That is why we proclaim it at every Mass: we proclaim your and resurrection O Lord, until Christ will come again!

Remember the story where Jesus went into the temple and started cleansing everything! When Jesus touched the temple treasury, (money) they were furious! That’s what happens when you touch the money. They asked Jesus ‘what sign can you show us that you have the right to do this”? Jesus said, ‘you destroy this temple and in three days I will build it up again?  They started mocking Jesus saying it took forty six long years to build this temple. The temple in Jerusalem was the symbol of their achievement, pride and statuesque. They thought nobody was able to touch it. But unfortunately it was completely destroyed when they least expected. (Ground Zero). The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem was not like the destruction of a church building. There are countless churches but there was only one Temple. To destroy that Temple was to destroy the identity of the Jewish people. So when Jesus said, “The day is coming when there shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire; all will be torn down,” he was saying the unthinkable. Likewise, our temple also will get destroyed, we are dust and unto dust you shall return. We take pride and joy of our temple- our body. How many of us think that I am going to die soon. Unexpected death happens a lot! We only die once, and no one can do it for us. In that sense death is unthinkable. We must always be ready!

We have happy days of our lives; memorable days like First Communion day, Graduation day, wedding day, the first day of a new job, our retirement day.  In such cases, not only is the day enjoyed for itself, it also promises many more wonderful days in the future. On the other hand, there are some days that strike fear and sadness in our hearts, such as the day we lose our job, the day of the death of a loved one, or the day something horrible happened in our lives!  These days thrust us into sadness and struggle with little or no light at the end of the tunnel. The Day of the Lord was always a day of anticipation for the people of ancient Israel. Originally it was perceived as a day of fulfillment. It was the moment in history when all of the promises made by God would come to completion, and the people of God would enjoy them forever, promises of peace and prosperity, of contentment and harmony.

According to the bible, if you are such a person, who every day set right priorities of your life and not getting distracted (which are so many today), growing in holiness and keeping a spirit of healthy detachment to everything in this world, then the day of the Lord is going to be an exciting day- a day of fulfillment. If not it can be a day of terror and turmoil! In his Book Ten Commandments for Today, (New York, Harper and Row, Publishers).] Gardner C. Taylor comments: “It is astonishing how much an American family will spend on physical fitness, and how little time or interest or money it will invest in spiritual fitness. It is amazing how much attention parents will give to a balanced diet for a child’s physical growth, and how little attention they will pay to the child’s moral and spiritual growth. Bread for the body, but no food for the soul. Cultivation of the mind, none of the heart.”