Faithful Through the End

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

A devout, Catholic man came to a priest for advice. He had been coming to the church for some thirty years. He estimated he had listened to over three thousand sermons but couldn’t remember any of them. He felt that he was wasting his time and also the priest’s time. The priest thought about it for a short while and then asked the man. “How long have you been married?” the man responded he had been married forty-two years. The priest then asked what were his memorable meals during his marriage? The man replied that he couldn’t remember any specific meals that his wife prepared, but they certainly nourished him or he wouldn’t be healthy. The priest then replied that definitely all those sermons he had listened to were nourishing his soul because he keeps coming back to the Church.

Today’s first reading from the Prophet Malachi addresses the problem of why evildoers prosper and just people suffer. What is the value of living a just and pious life when the irreligious people look down on the observance of the Law? The prophet tells them that the end of the world and the judgment will be terrible for the evildoer but joyful for the faithful. For those who have based their lives on being loyal to the Truth and have spent their lives in the service of God, and sought the well – being of their brothers and sisters, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.

In the second reading from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, we hear that those people unwilling to work, should not eat. Here St. Paul commands and exhorts in the Lord to do their work quietly and earn their living. St. Paul gives them his own example to show how he toiled day and night to earn his livelihood and never to expect anyone to take care of him. Even though he ministered and worked for the people of God, he lived by his own hard work.

The Gospel today begins with Jesus commenting on the Temple of Jerusalem, a temple which was one of the great wonders of the ancient world. It was the heart and center of all Jewish life; the very symbol of God’s presence among them. Yet Jesus tells his hearers, “All these things you are starting now, the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another, everything will be destroyed.”

Jesus warns his followers not to be deceived. The Christian life is to focus on the here and now and that will require strength and faith. The world will continue with wars and insurrections and there will continue to be natural disasters. The teaching of Jesus must help us not to live in fear and anxiety regarding the future. Rather, we are to focus on the present time, today, here and now. Jesus promises his followers if they bear sufferings for Christ’s name they will earn true life, the eternal life of Heaven.

During life we need to continue to listen to sermons, read the Bible, pray the Rosary, and read the lives of the saints to help us to nourish our souls. We know that we need to work hard in this life for ourselves and others. The sufferings in this life will help us to gain eternal life with God. We must have faith that God is always with us. In our life we go through lots of problems and difficulties, but we also have joy. But our joy will not end here. It will go on forever with God in Heaven.

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