Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 18, 2007 Year: C
Mal 4:1-2; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19
Endurance will gain you eternal life

First Reading...
"The Lord says this: 'See, the day is coming, burning like an oven,when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble;the day that comes shall burn them up,' says the Lord of hosts, 'so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.'" [Mal. 4:1-2]

Second Reading...
'Brothers and sisters, you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone's bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day,so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: 'Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.' For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living." [2 Thess. 3:7-12] 

Gospel Reading...
"When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, 'As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.'

They asked him, 'Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?' And Jesus said, Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is near! Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.'

Then Jesus said to them, 'Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

You will be betrayed even by parents, by brothers and sisters, and by 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 of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.'" [Lk. 21:5-19] 

Helpful Story:
There were once 2 brothers who lived on the 80th level. On coming home one day, they realized to their dismay that the lifts were not working and that they have to climb the stairs home.

After struggling to the 20th level, panting and tired, they decided to abandon their bags and come back for them the next day. They left their bags then and climbed on. When they have struggled to the 40th level, the younger brother started to grumble and both of them began to quarrel. They continued to climb the flights of steps, quarreling all the way to the 60th floor.

They then realized that they have only 20 levels more to climb and decided to stop quarreling and continue climbing in peace. They silently climbed on and reached their home at long last. Each stood calmly before the door and waited for the other to open the door.

And they realized that the key was in their bags which was left on the 20th floor

This story is reflecting on our life...many of us live under the expectations of our parents, teachers and friends when young. We seldom get to do the things that we really like and love and are under so much pressure and stress so that by the age of 20, we get tired and decided to dump this load.

Being free of the stress and pressure, we work enthusiastically and dream ambitious wishes.

But by the time we reach 40 years old, we start to lose our vision and dreams. We began to feel unsatisfied and start to complain and criticize. We live life as a misery as we are never satisfied. Reaching 60, we realize that we have little left for complaining anymore, and we began to walk the final episode in peace and calmness.

We think that there is nothing left to disappoint us, only to realize that we could not rest in peace because we have an unfulfilled dream... a dream we abandoned 60 years ago.

So what is your dream?

Follow your dreams, so that you will not live with regrets.

The question of whether Jesus actually used the apocalyptic rhetoric attributed to him in today’s gospel is still debated. Some think that he did not, that he was more concerned with God’s love for us than he was with the destruction of the temple or signs in the heaven. They argue that the rhetorical style of signs and wonders in the heavens was part of the culture of the time (and not just among the Jews) and that it meant indeed the end of the old creation but the beginning of a new creation.

However, it is not impossible to believe that Jesus used this mode of speaking to indicate that with his message of God’s love a new creation had begun.

As we near the end of the liturgical year, the readings of the Mass take on a decidedly apocalyptic tone.  Time and time again, we hear about the end times and the four last things - death, judgment, heaven and hell.  In this month of November, dedicated to the memory of all the souls of the faithful departed, we take time to pray especially for the souls in purgatory.  We also take time to take advantage of the spiritual treasury that the Church offers, especially the custom of gaining indulgences for the souls in purgatory.  By way of this homily, I would like to explain what we believe purgatory is, why it exists and why people go there.  then, I will explain what indulgences are and how they can assist the dead and each of us. 

Purgatory
According to the Catechism, purgatory is "a state of final purification after death and before entrance into heaven for those who died in God's friendship, but were only imperfectly purified. . ."  It is, "a final cleansing of human imperfection before one is able to enter the joy of heaven."  Part of where we derive this teaching is from the Book of Maccabees, in the Old Testament.  After a battle, Judas Maccabeus, one of the greatest war heroes of the Jewish people, "sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the Resurrection. . . It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead."  We find this in
2 Macc 12:43-46.  One might ask,  "If the dead are in heaven, then why pray for them?  They should pray for us.  And if the dead are in hell, then our prayers do them no good."  So, it stands to reason that there must be a third place where people who die may go that is neither heaven or hell.  We call that place purgatory.

A further examination of purgatory reveals that its existence is another vestige of God's mercy.  In a system of strict justice, only heaven and hell would exist.  Only the perfect would enter heaven; the rest would be condemned to hell.  Purgatory means that God still gives us time after death to be purified of our sins, to make atonement for what we have done and to detach from the sins we have committed.

And those events came to pass, just as Jesus foretold. Before the Temple was torn down so that not one stone rested upon another the early believers were indeed persecuted, abused and tortured and executed horribly. They were indeed hated by family, friend and stranger alike, all for professing faith in God’s love and redeeming action. Seems incredible, doesn’t it, that so many would be treated so horribly for proclaiming love and healing and reconciliation and acceptance and peace?

But nothing’s changed, really, has it? People are still being treated horribly for proclaiming healing and reconciliation in the name of Christ. You’d think that the words Jesus spoke to the tour group were applicable today.

Luke understood that what Jesus had to say applied today as well, and manages to convey in his gospel how the words of Jesus to a specific group of people about events that would occur before the destruction of the Temple had a broader context, a broader significance. Even as he dealt with the reality of the destruction of the Temple, Luke understood that the warnings and cautions from Jesus needed to be heard by the people of faith, but perhaps even more importantly the message of hope needed to be heard as well.

Today we hear these words, and we too understand that the message from Jesus is broader than it first seems. Yes, he outlines in the briefest of summary the kinds of events that will occur, but we need also to hear his words of courage and hope and meaning. “When you hear of [these things] do not be terrified, he soothes us – they must take place first. These things are ‘normal’, and to be expected, we might paraphrase. Big, cosmic stuff will happen. “But before all this occurs”, he cautions us, more personal stuff will happen, and you and your faith will be challenged to limits you never expected nor dreamed of. “Have courage and hope”, the one who endured the cross and death itself in perfect faith assures us. “Not a hair of your head will perish”, the one who conquered even death declared to the tour group, and declares still to us. Yes, sticks and stones and other nasty things

can break our bones, but the love for us and the relationship with God to which we are called, and in which with Christ’s help we will remain strong, is something that cannot wither nor perish nor be destroyed in any way. Jesus, the one standing in front of the Temple offering warning and hope to that ancient tour group, has become the risen Christ, whose endurance brought victory over even death.

This is not the word of some scare-monger proclaiming doom and gloom and destruction in his name, this is the word of God, proclaimed by the Son of God, and echoed in faithful endurance over the centuries that we might now hear it, and in turn proclaim it to untold generations to follow.

We are living in the time called “before all this”. It is our turn to hear these words of caution, these words of meaning and hope, these words of challenge and call. It’s easy when times are easy to

lay stones upon stones –it is more difficult when times are challenging to proclaim faith and meaning and hope and certainty, but that is exactly what we are being challenged and called to do here. No matter what comes our way, no matter what disasters and catastrophes we might have to face, we are assured by the one who endured all things on our behalf that “By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Thanks be to Jesus Christ, who not only assures us that there is meaning and life with God, but willingly gave of himself to seal that assurance, and sent to us the Holy Spirit to sustain us in endurance until the day we join him in paradise to offer praise and thanksgiving and glory.

Yes, odd things will happen. There will not be any respect and love for one another. But those who love God, he will take care of them. 

Conclusions
Do not worry if someone leaves the church or faith. That is bound to happen. You follow your hearts conviction;

Do not worry if someone leaves you and goes away. That also is normal in the last days of your life. Your life yours, and does not depend on what the other does or does not do.

Do not worry when you are poor or hopeless, there is someone who takes care of everything. You need to keep opening new avenues in life.

Do not just day dream, get to work. Appreciating the past is fine, but that is not the only thing in life. You can do a lot more, if you are willing to plunge into life that is lived only once.

  Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 

 

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