A message of faithful endurance

13 November 2022 33rd Sunday, Year C

Jesus’ disciples would have had the words of prophets like Malachi in today’s first reading inscribed onto their hearts. Malachi, speaking centuries before the birth of Jesus, describes the day of God’s judgement when “all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble” and, for God’s people, “there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”

Jesus’ disciples, like many faithful Jews of the time, would have eagerly anticipated when God would save his people, as he did in Egypt in the Exodus. This time, however, God would free them from suffering once and for all and lead them into an eternal promised land. This apocalyptic action would sweep aside the world as they knew it.

So, when in today’s gospel reading Jesus prophesies the cataclysmic destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, it seems to open the possibility that God’s judgement will come within the disciples’ own lifetimes. They would have looked at the chaos and destruction in the world around them as a sign that the end times were coming soon and they would have wanted to know what God would have them do to prepare.

However, Jesus’ description of the signs of the coming apocalypse, such as wars, earthquakes, famines and plagues, sounds like business as usual on planet Earth. What would have seemed like a world-ending event to his disciples, such as the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple that occurs within a generation of Jesus’ warnings, is just one of the countless trials they will have to endure.

While we should not expect the end of the world in our lifetimes, the signs prophesied by Jesus are constant reminders the things of this world are passing away.

Although it is unlikely that we will live to see the climactic events prophesised by the Scriptures, the end of our own time in this world will indeed come. As always, Jesus’ warnings about the passing away of this world are reminders of our own passing and to prepare ourselves for the eternal life that will follow the death that awaits us all.

As we see in St Paul’s writings to the Thessalonians in today’s second reading, preparing for the life to come means faithfully performing the daily labours and service that God has given us to do. This message of faithful endurance is what Jesus wants his disciples to take away from his prophecies about the end times. As Jesus highlights in the gospel, it is not through noticing signs of the end of the world that they will find salvation, but by persevering in faith and love through trials.

While we await the coming of Jesus, let us also persevere in faith and love, whatever trials come our way, always counting on the grace of God to be with us, especially when we need it most.                   

Joseph Doyle

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