33rd Sunday of the year C

Sermon on the 33rd Sunday of the year C

One of my favourite programmes on the television is one known as ‘Reeling in the years’. You may be familiar with it. It amazes me how much I have forgotten or headlines and events I barely understood, now become clear. I look back at the fashions, I remember the hairstyles and the clothes and the popular music.

One of the things that struck me is the number of wars, civil wars, acts of terrorism, assassinations and the like. The other is the large number of natural (as well as man-made disasters). The floods and earthquakes and famines and other natural disasters predicted by Jesus in the Gospel seem to come true as prophesied each year. When the programme is made about 2010, it will surely be remembered for Haiti, for the floods in Pakistan, and Haiti is in the news again.

What are we to make of today’s Gospel with its doom and gloom?

The Lord was prophesying many things that have taken place sonce - the destruction of the Temple; interrogations, betrayals, arrests, trials, martyrdom of Christians down the centuries, even betrayals and family division. a reeling of the years for any deacde and any year in the last 2,000 would throw up these events as well as natural and man-made disaters.

So, why the Gospel passage now, today, anyway? The timing of the Gospel is meant to convey a number of ideas to us:

• That as we approach the end of another year in the Church’s calendar, we realise that all good things do, after all, come to an end! Life is short, we can’t live forever, what is here today is gone tomorrow.

• That as the light fades and the darkness deepens in November; all lights seem to go out, but Christ the Light remains.

• From time to time some Christians are caught up in an apocalyptic frenzy of ‘end times’ – that the end is nigh. Sometime you will see people in Cork carrying billboard/ads saying the end is nigh. In the year 2000, a number of people were afraid of Y2K, and that all the computers would come to a standstill, and that social anarchy and food shortages would result.

• Even in time of St Paul, people ‘downed tools’ in the certain belief that the world was going to end soon. Paul’s advice is firm – stop interfering, go on quietly about your business. They were not be spend their days in idle speculation.

There is another aspect to the times we live in – it is all the more challenging to be a committed Mass-going believing Catholic. It requires a personal commitment to remain faithful. There is so much negativity and cynicism. Some of us at times, even within our own family circle, are questioned about our commitment. There may even be family members who you left behind today at home, who despite your best efforts and encouragement will not be coming to Mass today.

What should be our attitude? None other than the words of Christ: ‘your endurance will win you your lives'.

There are occasions when you may be challenged to stand up for the truth of what we believe in. A conversation, a remark, a kind gesture, a word of encouragement, a simple explanation, in charity and gentleness, can be the difference to somebody’s faith and salvation. We do have an obligation to study our faith, to ask questions of somebody in the know, to read the Catechism, but also to pray for the right words at the right time to convince someone. But most of all our witness by our behavior and by our consistency between what we say and what we do. We must never under-estimate the power of gentle, good example to those who are searching for the answers and the truth.

It is in times of darkness – like the doom and gloom of the present – that the light is needed. We are called to be that light in the darkness to others – and the source of that light is Christ Himself.

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