“A time of waiting and watching” (CCC 672)

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Malachi 3:19-20A

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12

Brothers and sisters: You know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat. We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others. Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food.

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."

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus reveals to us the signs of the end times, “Nation will rise against nation … there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be portents and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:10-11). Preceding these are the sufferings and persecutions that Christians will face (rf. Luke 21:12).

Indeed, such turmoil happened throughout history. In this day and age, they have become quite common, they are in the news every day; they happen far and near. When the horribly depressing and heart-breaking incidents happen at increasing severity and frequency day after day, sometimes I cannot help but wonder whether the end times that Jesus talks about is near.

Jesus knows our feelings of uncertainties, our weaknesses and fears. He prepares us to face these challenges, “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified” (Luke 21:9); “Beware that you are not led astray” by those who will come in His name (Luke 21:8). If we bear witness to Jesus in these difficult times, He promises us “words and a wisdom” that no one can contradict (Luke 21:15). If we are “hated by all because of [His] name”, He assures us that we will not perish and we will gain our souls “by [our] endurance” (Luke 21:17, 19). Indeed, our time is one of distress and evilness from which the pilgrim Church is not exempted, it is “a time of waiting and watching” that ushers in the end times (CCC 672).

In these worst of times, when we see the tides of evilness like strong waves in a horrendous storm and the efforts of good people trying to turn the tides are not only in vain, wasted but swallowed in the dark, it could be easy for us to be tempted to lose our enthusiasm, give in our good works in despair and even turn to the things of this world for consolation. We must always be on guard and must not let this happen. What we profess our faith in the Apostles’ Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead” must be a constant reminder for ourselves to live a good Christian life with determination and steadfastness.

St. Paul also lives in a time of waiting and watching in the days of the early church, he tells us how he lives “we were not idle … we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day (2 Thes 3:7-8). He teaches us by example what we should do as we await the second coming of Christ.

Let us join the psalmist to sing praises to the Lord, who on a day unbeknownst to us, “will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity” (Psalm 98:9).

Posted: November 17, 2019

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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