17 November 2019 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today we observe the Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King which falls on the last Sunday of the liturgical year.

On the past thirty two Sundays of Ordinary Time, we have meditated on Saint Luke's narrative of the life and works of Jesus. Now as we approach the end of the year, we focus on the end of time in preparation for Advent. In today's gospel we hear Jesus' final instruction in the Temple, regarding the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Luke (21:5-19).

What do we know about the Temple? King Solomon built the first Temple. Some people admired the external beauty and majesty of their Temple but had neglected their spiritual heritage and ignored God's law. This was the Temple that Jesus predicted would be destroyed. Therefore, terrified they asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"

Jesus did not tell them exactly when this would happen. He admonished them not to be terrified but prepare themselves with spiritual fortitude for their approaching trials and destruction. He urged them to firmly trust that God is present even amidst these trials. Moreover, he encouraged them to accept the trials as opportunities to bear witness before their persecutors, Luke (21:12-19).

Jesus' prophecy was fulfilled a few decades later, in 70 AD when the Jews rebelled against the Romans and were punished by a siege. Hundreds of thousands of people died, many more were enslaved, and the city of Jerusalem and the Temple were completely destroyed.

What is the message for us?

Just like the Jews of Jesus' time, often we too are perhaps so overly concerned with the externals that we neglect the internals of our life. We work so hard to have a great and beautiful house with rich furniture, costly paintings, and all the elegance but fail to adorn our life with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience which make a happy home. We focus on the physical things in life rather than the spiritual.

As we prepare ourselves for the end of time, regardless of exactly how and when it happens, let us not permit our fears and anxieties to take control of us. Instead, let us every day, with God's grace, train our minds not to rely fully on our own human efforts and resources but in God who has promised to be with us in the midst of our trials, illnesses, sufferings, and hardships and until the end of time. Let us courageously bear witness to His name by firmly and patiently holding fast to His teachings. Let us persevere in our faith in our Lord Jesus no matter what happens and find rest for our souls.