November 17, 2013

The Gospel Today 

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.”

Reflection (Sem. Ernie Sican):

            Today’s Gospel reminds us the signs of the end, the end of the world,  the end of earthly existence, the end of our own life perhaps. Whatever it is, it is a good reminder that everything has its own end. The world and everything in it, including man will pass away. This world is not meant for eternity. We have the beginning and so we have the ending. We are finite beings and our physical component will degenerate by the passage of time. Whether we like it or not, our end will surely come.

            Before the end comes, the Gospel reminds us that there will be persecution, imprisonment, hatred and even death for those who follow Christ. However, what is consoling is the word of Christ saying “but not even a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

            Christ did not promise that life will be easy for those who will follow Him. In fact it is full of sufferings and sacrifices. If Christ was crucified and died on the cross, then those who follow Him will experience the same, though not in the literal sense. But what is the suffering in this life compared to the Heavenly Kingdom which Christ promised to those who follow Him. Even if I gained the whole world but loses my soul in the end, what good is it?

               It is good to strive for success and comfortable life. It is good to seek for riches and accomplish many things in this life. God has given us different talents and expects us to be fruitful. However we need to remember that all these things are mere instruments to help us attain the end for which we are created. St. Ignatius would remind us that we are created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save our soul.

            We should not be afraid even of death because death is our passage to eternal life. Death is a fact of life that we must undergo without exception. It is part of our nature as created beings. Though it may be painful because it will end all our possibilities in this earthly life, we need to be hopeful at the same time because a more perfect world awaits us behind the curtain of death. So whatever happens to the world and to our own world, Jesus assures us that He will be with us until the end of time.  Do not be afraid but rather believe.

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