in Ordinary Time
A Homily - Cycle C - 2012-2013
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Malachi 3:19-20a
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
Second Reading - 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Gospel - Luke 21:5-19
Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
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 may 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."
Well, this has been quite a year, year “C” of the three-year liturgical cycle, a year dedicated to Gospel readings from the wonderful, insightful, merciful . . . St. Luke. All good things must come to an end. When the celebration began a year ago, I remember saying, “The time has COME!” “We’ve begun a GREAT year, GREAT readings written by a GREAT name, St. Luke Himself.” But how quickly it passes . . . only today and next week, then we have to move onto St. Matthew. So we’ll relish these moments as long as possible . . .
But then Jesus comes in today, and seems to direct a message just to me, “Be careful, many will come in my name, saying “THE TIME HAS COME.” I’m not fond of His following words . . . you will hear of wars and insurrections, nation will rise against nation, earthquakes will occur, famines and plagues.” “You will be handed over to synagogues and prisons, led before kings and governors . . . you will be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends . . .” - Not exactly a pep talk.
Especially since the people were just saying, “Ah, how BEAUTIFUL the temple is!” Adorned with costly stones and votive offerings. But Jesus says – there will be a day when not one stone will be standing upon another. I’m sure Jesus could see every calamity that would befall us . . . wars, disasters, even the Typhoon in the Philippines. As they say, “What’s next?”
Here’s some possibilities from the pessimist’s club – What if the war in the middle east picks up? What if the United States enters the war? What if another earthquake happens here? Or another Hurricane Sandy? Or another Sandy Hook? How do we FIX these problems? Our pastor just informed me that he heard from a priest friend, who is a Navy Chaplain, that their aircraft carrier is going down to the Philippines to help those who are homeless and hungry. I’m so proud of our country. I’m so proud of what the United States can and does do. But will the U.S. ALWAYS respond this way? Will we be able to protect EVERY child and person? I can’t guarantee that. I TRUST that the TSA will protect my flight going somewhere. I TRUST that Northern Virginia is safe and relatively earthquake-free. I TRUST that the government of the United States will protect the free practice of my Catholic faith . . . but I can’t GUARANTEE any of these things. What about my family? At least I can turn to them for support . . . can’t I?
No, Jesus reminds me today, NONE of these things can be definitively counted on . . . only ONE thing, only ONE person, can be counted on in EVERY MOMENT and in EVERY PLACE . . . Himself. I was flying recently . . . not a big fan of it. Sitting in a fiberglass tube, 35,000 feet above the ground . . . not quite right. But as I was flying, I thought to myself, “God, you’re up here as well.” There’s NOWHERE I can go where You won’t be there to watch over me and love me. But I had to let go of my frantic thoughts of what I would use as a parachute in the passenger cabin . . .”just in case.” But I can’t plan for EVERY case. I can’t guarantee the stability of ANYTHING or the outcome of ANYTHING in this fragile and imperfect world of ours . . . but Jesus reminds us, there is ONE guarantee, there is ONE constant in all these changing conditions, there is ONE source of strength which will NEVER GO AWAY . . . HIM. Don’t just rely on the stones of the temple. Rely on Him. Don’t just rely on the progress of your country . . . rely on HIM. Don’t just rely on the health of your body . . . rely on HIM. Don’t just rely on peace in your family . . . rely on Him. As the prophet Malachi tells us, for those who fear and trust in HIS Name, “there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” If we rely on Him, the NO MATTER WHAT happens, we can finally appreciate and live Jesus’ command, “do not be terrified. Do not be afraid, Just MY NAME is more powerful than any of this, I am always there with you!”
And so the message for today is, let go of the illusions of stability . . . and don’t be afraid. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s a tall order. That involves a lot of letting go. Thank God that our God is a patient One. It will take some time. But, no longer being afraid of what happens in our world, in our country, in our community, in our parish, under our roof – to place our DEEPEST trust in Him . . . that sounds attractive . . . here’s to letting go!