To read the texts click on the texts: Mal l3:19-20; 2 Thess 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19
One Sunday before end of
the liturgical year, when we ready ourselves to receive Christ the Eternal
King, the Church invites us, through the readings of today, to reflect on our
preparedness for the coming of the king. Even as she does so, the Church does not
expect that we will only gaze into the future. Rather, she expects that we will
realize that it is our present that determines our future. On the one hand,
this Sunday’s readings focus on the future coming of the Lord and the
end-times. On the other hand, the readings point out that our future is in the
present and we must live that present fully so that we will do the same with
The expectation of
something that is unknown can bring up two kinds of feelings in the hearts of
the ones expecting. For those who expect that the coming event will result in
some reward, the feelings will be of joy, hope, and expectation. For those who
expect that the coming event will bring judgement and maybe punishment, the
feelings will be of fear, trepidation, and apprehension.
These are the feelings
that Malachi speaks about in the first reading of today. He states that the day
that is coming will bring, for the arrogant and the evildoers, judgement and
punishment. It will be a day that will burn them. However, for the righteous,
he states that it will be a day of joy and hope. It will be a day of healing
These are also the
feelings that Jesus addresses in the Gospel text of today which is part of
Luke’s Eschatological Discourse. The disciples might tend to get frightened,
even terrified, when they hear about the last things. They might tend to fear
when calamities befall them, but they are not to do so. They must remain
unfazed by the events that signal what might seem like the end time. What is required
from them is endurance and perseverance. What is required of them is
fearlessness and courage. The reason for this is that the end time will be for
them, a day of vindication and victory. It will be a day of triumph and
accomplishment. Even in the face of all odds and evidence to the contrary, they
are called to believe.
instructions, Jesus offers his disciples, not a way of predicting the end of
the world, but a strategy to use so that whenever that day comes, they will be
ready. Consequently, the disciples have to focus, not so much on what is to
come and when it will come but, on what they have to accomplish at the present
moment, in the here and now.
Paul’s exhortation to the
Thessalonians in the second reading of today says just this. Paul sets himself
up an example of what it means to do what one has to do in the.here and now.
Paul worked night and day, doing what he was called to do. He was not a burden
to anyone. He did not engage in idle speculation about the future and what it
might bring. He lived and worked in the present moment.
The challenge to live
fully the teachings of Jesus and to bear the consequences of such a life
continues to confront us today. It is easy to speculate about the future or to
project a “pie-in-the sky-when-you-die” to those who are undergoing adversity.
However, to face these challenges squarely is another matter.
Is there a plausible
response that the readings of today give to those for whom life seems, at most
time, a burden? Do the readings of today address the problems of how we must
handle difficulties when they come our way? Do the readings of today give us an
insight into how we are to prepare for the Lord’s coming? The answer to all
these questions is a resounding “yes”.
First, life is only as
burdensome as we want it to be. One important reason why life becomes
burdensome is because we often live in the future rather than in the present.
We keep thinking about what we could have rather than using what we have. We
fret about wanting more rather than using what we have joyfully. This is why
Jesus tells his disciples not to be led astray and look for salvation in this
or that fad or this or that thing. Salvation comes only from the Lord.
Difficulties in life are
only difficulties if they are seen as such. We can instead look on them as
opportunities to show that we can persevere. We can look on them and know that,
no matter what the difficulty might be, our response will be one of courage and
fearlessness. We can look on them and know that, even in the face of the most
severe persecution which may even result in death, not a hair of our head will
Thus, as we get ready to
welcome Christ our eternal King, the readings of today invite us to see that it
is Christ, present in the here and now, not Christ who is expected in the
future who continues to shape and inspire our lives.