HOMILY FOR THE 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Readings: Mal. 3:19-20a/Thess. 3:7-12
Gospel: Lk. 21:5-19
These past several weeks have caused me to do some serious evaluations of myself and of our society in its behavior in this day and age. And it is not just because of the recent elections that have concluded, but also in the way that these elections have been characterized in the various forms of media. I have seen these past week’s people I had grown up with say very unkind words in support of whom they entrusted to be their choice for this country in either Facebook or Twitter. I have driven past homes on my way to and from work with signs and messages that were not only depressing to think about but downright mean in their sentiment. It came to the point that I was about to declare to the world “Congratulations, you finally succeeded in me to not care about humanity.” Then I remembered what I told myself before when the world gets out of control: “The Love I have for you is greater than the disdain you have for me.”
It seems that every two or four years humanity devolves into various factions in which the only objective is to belittle the opposition so they can be victorious. While we yell and scream and throw up our hands stating that we are tired and worn out the rhetoric that is spewed during each season, we nonetheless allow it to continue each and every season. We have changed the election for our civil leadership into nothing more than overly-fanatical grandstanding. And when the elections are over, it takes time for this political fever to break so that we can return to some sense of civility. Those who are on the side of the victor will bask in their sense of glory; while those who are on the side of the defeated will commiserate with each other and in some cases demonstrate to the world of their disappointment.
Recently, however, those who are in the minority have begun to demonstrate their disapproval in various cities across the country. Some are peaceful; others are not. But they are all expressing their solidarity for their candidate even after the election has been decided. Those who are in the majority seem to not understand the rationale behind these demonstrations. Their claim is that if the roles were reversed, there would not be any similar demonstrations out in the street. These demonstrators are still hurting; yet the victors refuse to allow them to heal. Have we forgotten as a society to be understanding and forgiving to those whose hearts are in pain?
When we try to understand the gospel proclaimed today, we also should look at this in the eyes of those who feel defeated as well as those who feel victorious. Jesus had just concluded dealing with the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Scribes and Elders and brought their high-mindedness down to size. Before that, Jesus had driven all be moneychangers out of the temple for doing their business there. He had just seen an old woman dropped two coins into the treasury box so that the Scribes and Priests would get rich off of a poor woman’s want. Her devotion to God and the temple is never debated, only the mere fact that she had to pay a temple tax to begin with is highly questionable in Jesus’s eyes.
While all of this was going on, others in Jesus’s group began to notice many decorations within the temple. Jesus saw in their eyes their amazement in its grandeur and opulence. It was as if what Jesus did a few moments ago had no meaning to them. So he tells them that there will be a day when everything that they see will be taken down and destroyed. “All that you see here-the days will come with there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
While the crowd understood him to mean the building itself, Jesus was also meaning temple of their faith in the temple of themselves. When the crowd asked Jesus when this will happen, he gives them a foreshadowing of the things that will happen before their temple of faith comes down. He warns them to be wary of those who say that they have come to them in Jesus’s name. These false prophets will warn them that the end of the world is at hand and they are the only ones who can bring about salvation to the world.
“Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and awesome sites and mighty signs will come from the sky.” They will be seized and persecuted and handed over to the synagogues and thrown into the prisons because of their confession of allegiance to Jesus.
Usually, when one is about to give testimony, a statement is prepared in advance so that the message is clear and concise to the court. But in this “trial of faith” Jesus tells the crowd that they should not prepare a testimony because he will train them how to speak so that no one can refute what they have to say. Preparing a testimony ahead of time implies that a person has to think about what is needed to be said in order to avoid punishment. But Jesus says that the wisdom he gives to us will be enough so that anything we say and do will be a testimony of who we are and how we live. We tend to get caught up in our own self-importance that anything we do or say that is not inspired by the Holy Spirit will show us to be less than authentic in our faith. We get caught up in the various ways of how the faith is to be expressed. Is it “single-issue?” Is it based upon a person or persons’ certain theological slant?
Have we as a Church neglected the congregation in their desire to worship for our own self-importance?
In order for us to have an authentic faith, we must have a firm foundation in both the temporal and spiritual planes. It is then that we can truly understand the nature of God’s love for us and for all of his children here on earth. In 1988, a gentleman by the name of Israel Kamakaviwo’ole walked into a recording studio in Hawaii and with the simple ukulele recorded a rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” His rendition became just as popular or even more popular than the original version sung by Judy Garland. During an interview about his life and family, he spoke about them in terms of living for others by having one foot in the temporal world while having the other foot in the spiritual world.
“I was scared when I lost my mother, my father, my brother, my sister. I guess this is going to sound weird. I’m not scared for myself-for dying-because we Hawaiian. We live in both worlds.”
Israel’s awareness for understanding the world around him enabled his voice to transcend all forms of music even after his death. She had an understanding of faith in God that many of us can only envy. He had the mindset we all should strive to have: that by living our lives in this world we should also be aware of what’s to come in the next.
By being grounded in both worlds, we can display the love and mercy of God that he gives to us to those who are hurting and confused and this time of transition. Let us use that opportunity to help our brothers and sisters in need so that we can continue our journey of faith together and by doing so we can truly become children of God.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU DO THIS WEEK
Questions for Reflection:
- Did the recent Presidential elections bring you anxiety and depression?
What was the biggest reason: The Candidates; The result; The way your friends reacted?
- Is there a certain saying or someone you admire that helps you when
things get bad?
- If you were to give testimony about your life, would you need time to
prepare a statement, or do you know what you will say?