A HOMILY FOR THE THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “C” – 11/13/16 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Today’s Gospel from St. Luke reminds me of all the side effects caused by the different medications today. Maybe it’s because St. Luke was a doctor! But you know what I’m talking about. We hear over and over again, drug companies love to tell us about their latest and greatest medicines for everything from diabetes to dreaded shingles virus, which we ALL know now, if we had chicken pox as children, the shingles virus is already in us. Makes me regret getting chicken pox from my brother. We hear so many commercials for drugs and medicine. I would hate to be a doctor today, because with all these commercials, all of us think we know the medicine that we need to make us better. I don’t want to pick the medicine that I need. I want a doctor to do that. So now we ALL know about all these wonderful new medicines. But what’s the problem? The problem is, that all of these wonderful new medicines, all have wonderful new side effects. Have you listened to those lists of side effects? The list of side effects are terrible! Sometimes, the disease or sickness sounds a whole lot better than the side effects of the medicines! I’m pretty sure that I’d rather have over-active bladder, than suicidal thoughts or actions. It’s true.
So we come to Mass today, and Jesus is talking to these people about how beautiful the Temple is, and Jesus tells them, oh, by the way, in just a few years this Temple is going to be destroyed, not one stone is going to be left on top of another. Now, this is not where this conversation was going. They were talking about how beautiful it was. They were admiring the building. It would be like us being inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and someone telling us, oh yeah, this is all going to be destroyed. It sounds like a very negative and odd comment. It sounds like something Debbie Downer would say.
But Jesus uses the occasion to talk about the end times. He reminds His followers that this world is passing away. And He’s telling us that this must happen before the final realization of His Kingdom. He talks about wars, and earthquakes, and plagues, and famines. And He tells us, NOT to be terrified, not to be afraid. He even says, that these things don’t signify that the end is going to happen right away. But that we are to have Faith, and persevere, and always trust that God is going to take care of us.
And then, and here’s when we go back to the similarity with the drug commercials, Jesus kind of casually mentions that, oh yeah, by the way, there’s also going to persecution, before these things happen and while they are happening. Can’t you just hear that little, softer voice from the drug commercials, that usually reads the list of side effects, now all of a sudden reading this later section of this Gospel in that side effects voice. The voice might say, “Stop following Jesus immediately and call your doctor, if you are terrified of persecution! Such persecution might include stoning, torture, beheading, crucifixion, dry mouth, loss of appetite, or even lead to death!
Jesus is being very honest with us today. Many times, following Jesus comes with a cost. We’ve got to know that. Persecution is part of the deal. Jesus doesn’t conceal that, like some hidden side effect. Jesus is telling us, especially in the end times, there will be persecution! There has always been persecution! Remember, we are living in the same world that two-thousand years ago crucified Jesus Himself. We can’t say that we love Him, we can’t say that we want to follow Him, we can’t say that we want to be like Him, and not expect to get persecuted also. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen at work. It’s going to happen at school. Sometimes, it’s going to happen even in our own families, which Jesus also point out in today’s Gospel.
What’s the good news? What’s the secret here? What is it that counters this side effect of persecution? Jesus promises that if we persevere, if we don’t give up on and in our Faith, that He’s got us all taken care of! By our perseverance, we will secure our lives. That’s the good news! Not even a hair on our head will be destroyed! But we have to trust. And we have to persevere. No matter what is going on in our lives, and God promises to take care of us, in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.
That’s something to believe in, even in the end times! With Jesus, even the side effects, aren’t that bad!
+ May God bless us and protect us, as we journey home towards His Kingdom! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!! St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!