• Mal 3:19-20A
• Psa 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
• 2 These 3:7-12
• Lk 21:5-19
“The kingdom of God, beloved brothers and sisters, has drawn near,” wrote Saint Cyprian. “The reward of life, the joy of eternal salvation, the perpetual happiness and the possession of paradise once lost are now coming as the world passes away.” Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, was writing in the third century. Was he wrong in saying the kingdom of God is near? Or that the world is passing away? No, of course not, and today’s readings can help us more deeply appreciate his perspective.
Centuries prior, the prophet Malachi wrote of an approaching day of judgment and justice, a day “blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch…” Malachi was writing in the fifth century B.C., after the people had returned to Jerusalem from exile, and he proclaimed the need for deep spiritual and institutional reform, especially among the priesthood. Those who fear and follow God, he said, will see the “sun of justice” arising, a sun with “healing rays.”
The prophet, whose name meant “My messenger,” wrote of a future messenger—identified as Elijah, the prophet—who would arrive “before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day” (Mal 3:23).
That messenger was John the Baptist, and the “sun of justice” was, of course, John’s cousin, Jesus of Nazareth. As John preached repentance, he also preached about a man mightier than himself. “I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire,” said John. “His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Mt 3:11-12). Everyone will be judged by the Son of justice, and this strong truth is found throughout the Gospels.
The difficulty, however, is this: while God’s judgment has begun and is ongoing, it will not be fully realized and revealed until the End. Likewise, the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated by Jesus Christ, but it also has not been fully realized and revealed, and will not be until the End.
We are understandably interested in “The End.” Jesus knew this well, for as he neared his Passion and crucifixion he spoke at length about the End and related events. Today’s Gospel is part of one of the “little apocalypses” (cf. Mk 13; Mt 24), which is equally fascinating and baffling. Keep in mind that Jesus spoke about three different events or realities: first, the persecution of Christians prior to the fall of the Temple in A.D. 70 (Lk 21:12-19); second, the time of the fall of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman army (Lk 12:5-11, 20-24); third, the time of the Son of Man (Lk 21:25-38).
While a careful reading shows that Jesus distinguished between these three events, it also indicates they are closely related. For example, the divine judgment that fell upon the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 not only validated Jesus’ pronouncements about a new and everlasting covenant, it also served as a microcosm of the final judgment, when the “temple” of the world will be judged once and for all.
The prophet Malachi longed for a time when the faithful would be liberated from the hands of “the proud” and “the evildoers.” In a similar way, many first-century Jews were anxious for a liberation from Roman rule that would be political—and violent—in nature. But Jesus repeatedly taught and demonstrated that the kingdom of God liberates us from the worst and ultimate enemies: sin and death.
The King and the kingdom have drawn near, and we partake of them—truly, not metaphorically—in liturgy and reception of Eucharist. But, as the Apostle Paul indicates in today’s Epistle, there is much “toil and drudgery.” Yet the daily grind should not dull us to the fact that this world is passing away.
(This “Opening the Word” column originally appeared in the November 17, 2013 edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)
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A homily of insight and hope. A song of praise to God and counselling to have perseverance. Part of the fall is that we lack patience, yet God is so forbearing and long suffering.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Ephesians 4:2 With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
Psalm 37:7-9 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
“Yet the daily grind should not dull us to the fact that this world is passing away”. Indeed.
“Toll and drudgery” and the “daily grind” makes people retreat, eat, drink and be entertained. Are we dulled, dumbed and numbed down for the lack of good news? People act shocked by the words and actions of Bergoglio even after more than eight years. The Lord said: Will the Son of Man still find FAITH when he comes!? Saint Gertrude asked Saint John the Beloved why he did not say anything in his gospel about the mystery of the Sacred Heart as he was allowed to listen to the beat of the Holy Heart of God. And he replied: “…The revelation of love revealing the beats of His Sacred Heart is meant for the newer age, in order that this message will warm up again the world that has grown old and cold of the love of God.”
“The Lord is King
all power is his
enthroned above the Cherobim
all tremble before him
and his mantle’s trim
covers the universe.
Extol and praise his holy name.
He is holy, holy, holy! Amen (Maria Louise Thalmair)