Homily: XXXIII Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ever since entering the seminary in 2008, every time the month of November comes around I become increasingly aware of movies being played on TV about the end of the world. Movies like, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “2012”, and “Armageddon”. Funny enough, on the History Channel, they have a whole show dedicated to different end of the world scenarios called “Life After Humans” . There is also an obsession with “The Nostradamus Effect”, a show about a guy who has tried to predict the end of the world. Even the popular cartoon, “The Simpsons” jumped on the predicting the end of the world bandwagon by showing an episode where Homer tries to predict the end of the world using numbers and dates.
Popular culture seems to be capturing the natural signs from the environment and realizing that something is going on around them. In November, especially here in the Greater Toronto Area, we see all of creation begin to go into hibernation, to fall asleep, appearing like they are dead. We need only to look at the trees and their leaves changing colour and how they fall to the ground. Even the wild animals that terrorize our gardens and lawns begin to gather food and look for a place to hibernate and sleep for the winter so that they can terrorize us again in the spring. The days become shorter with less daylight, it is as if the world itself is going to sleep.
From this, the Church, in her liturgical cycle of readings – especially in the month of November – calls her members to reflect more deeply about their own particular death. A Franciscan Friar of the Atonement used to remind me when I was growing up, that there is only one thing we are guaranteed in our life and that is that we will die. Morbid, yes. Scary, absolutely. But, it startled me, woke me up and gave me a lot to think about when it comes to my own life.
I think this is what Jesus is trying to do with His words to us in the Gospel today. He is waking us up, startling us and calling us to reflect upon what really matters in this life. In the Gospel, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. For the Jewish people, the temple in Jerusalem was the heart of their worship and the place where humanity encountered God in the Holy of Holies. It was their place of communion with God. So you see how they might have been startled to hear Jesus predict the loss of the temple. After all, they know from their own history what it felt like for their ancestors when the temple was lost of the first time. It was as if that God had abandoned them. In their return to the land promised to them, the first order of business was to rebuild the temple. Needless to say, the temple was incredibly important for them.
However, the people were more concerned with gold lanterns and costly stones and lost the reason why it was important: It was the place of communion with God. Jesus, in startling them, waking them up goes further than just the destruction of the temple but predicts further disasters such as wars, famines, and plagues. He also predicts persecutions and division in families. Jesus, in startling them with these disasters and persecutions, does not just leave them in fear, He gives them hope. Hope in God who does not abandon them but assures them of His help to overcome these disasters and persecutions. Our God is a God who is faithful to His promises. We must be patient and go to our faithful God in prayer and ask Him for courage in midst of disaster and persecution.
As we look around in the environment and as we watch on TV through movies and TV shows we are reminded that the world will one day end, at what time, only the Father knows. As such, Jesus calls us to reflect upon what is important in our life namely our relationship with God which does not end when we die. So I ask you, what is your relationship with God? Is it healthy marked by prayer, worship, and constant in conversion motivated by love of God and neighbour in our daily struggles as faithful Christians? Or is it unhealthy marked by lack of prayer, sin, hardness of heart and un-repentance giving in to despair in midst of disaster and chaos? If it is unhealthy, do you know where you can go to be healed? Are you willing to open your life to the eternal doctor, Jesus Christ, who is faithful, always calling us back to Him to be faithful in word and deed?
In this Mass, as we approach the altar of God, let us bring to Him those areas of our life that are unhealthy and in need of God’s healing. Let us ask Him for courage to persevere in trial and let Him, the divine healer, heal our wounds so that we may work to build up the kingdom and eat of His flesh and blood in the Eucharist.