THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TAKE THE END OF THE WORLD SERIOUSLY
First Reading: (Mal 3: 19-20):
The end is coming,God will bestow universal salvation
“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... 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 2l: 10-19)
“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)
The thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time is the second last Sunday of the liturgical year so is near the end of the church's liturgical year. The church uses this time of the year to invite us to meditate on one of the doctrines of the “Four Last Things,” that is, the doctrine of the 'end of the world'.
When Jesus preached he always began with life experience, and from actual life went on to his central theme. In this way people would have a concrete and deep impression of his doctrine. Moreover, in that way it was easier for people to link faith with daily life and put their faith into action.
At the time “when some were speaking
about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts
dedicated to God” (Lk 21:5) all the people were expressing
their awe. Jesus then reminded them: “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.”
(Lk 21:6). Jesus was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, a prophecy
that came to pass in its entirety about forty years after Jesus' death
and resurrection, i.e. around 70 A.D.
The words of Scripture are usually very encouraging and contain positive meanings. When the authors write about the future life it is to help us live the present life as well as possible. When they speak of heaven above it is to help us appreciate life on earth and at the same time understand that 'we are in this world but not of this world.'
An example is when Paul speaks of sin in the Epistle to the Romans.
Sin was not the main focus of his words. When he wrote of serious sins
he sounded very disheartened. But actually what he wanted us to understand
was the richness of God's salvific grace. So after he had thoroughly
described the horror of sin, he added, “where
sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”(Rom 5:20).
Behind the concept of sin the real point of Paul’s writing was “God's
Actually the true meaning of the end of the world is to remind us beforehand that the day of salvation will come. It is not only a time of great calamity and the fearful day of final judgment. If those who are not believers may remain calm with an attitude of “Never performing an unconscionable act in my life, knocking at the door in the middle of the night would not frighten me,”(1) how much more so should we be the same, we who throughout our whole lives have believed in God, served and loved God and others, and have nothing to be ashamed of before God or human beings.
Is not the end of the world the time about which Paul said, “I have
fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness.” (2
Tim 4: 7-8) That is the beginning of eternal beatitude! Why should we
During the Five Dynasties Wang Yan Zhang was looked upon as an illiterate,
uncivilized person. But he always said, “A leopard dies and leaves its
skin behind, a man dies and leaves his name behind.”(3)
Even a person who does not believe in eternal life wants
to leave behind something of value. What effort should we make in order
to prepare a place for ourselves in God's kingdom of heaven?