Sunday Sermon for November 17, 2019, the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Readings: Mal 3:19-20a; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19

In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells His listeners that the day would come when the Temple would be destroyed and not one stone would be left upon another.  When the people asked what the sign would be to let them know when these things would happen, Jesus warned them about people who would come in His Name, claiming to be Him.  He also said there would be wars and insurrections, earthquakes, famines, and plagues, and great and terrifying signs in the sky.  Although many of these things have been happening ever since our Lord spoke these words, the signs in the sky are not so common.

Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Temple, many signs were seen in the sky.  As our Lord had told His Apostles, they were hated and persecuted.  The time and events surrounding the year AD 70 serve as a prefiguration of what will happen at the end of the world.  They also serve the same function for any other period in history that brings an era to an end and foreshadows the final times of humanity.

The Prophet Malachi tells us that the Day of the Lord will come like a blazing oven.  We might be tempted to think of an oven in the modern sense, but the ovens of ancient times would have been large stone structures which would have huge fires blazing in them to heat up the stones.  When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, it was by fire.  The fire was so hot that it melted all the gold around the top of the Temple.  The melted gold ran down between the huge stones that made up the Temple wall and vandals overturned every one of the stones to get the gold out.  What our Lord stated, what seemed utterly impossible to those who heard Him, took place within forty years of His prophecy.

I have long thought the time we are living in to be a time when we will see a Day of the Lord.  It is not going to be the end, but like what happened in Jerusalem, it will prefigure the end.  Our Lady told us at Akita, a fully approved apparition from 1973, that fire will fall from the sky killing the greater part of humanity.  She said it will be worse than the deluge.  Although we do not know when will happen, each day seems to bring us a step closer to this terrible event. 

We are not yet hated by all and most Catholics around the world are not being persecuted.  Of course, those in the Middle East and a few other places certainly know the hatred and experience persecution daily.  Although it appears that the beauty of the Temple (the Church) is being stripped away and the integrity of the Church’s teaching is being threatened from without and within, St. Paul tells us in the second reading to live our lives quietly, to live orderly lives, and to continue with our daily work.

  Needless to say, deep and profound prayer will be an absolute necessity to remain faithful and live orderly lives in the midst of the disorder and divisions that surround us.  Our human nature is prone to compromise, to “go along to get along.”  Jesus tells us in the Gospel that by our perseverance we will secure our lives.  Jesus told us He is the Truth, so there can be no compromise because if we compromise the Truth, we no longer have Jesus. 

One of the great things about being Catholic is that everything is written down and infallible dogmas cannot change.  We need to know the Truth and we need to remain faithful to it.  It is not necessary that we go about making a scene.  Unless the Lord tells you differently, just remain faithful.  It will be evident to everyone because of the charity you exhibit that you are a faithful follower of Christ.  It will also be evident by the witness of the suffering you are willing to endure without compromising the truth and without lashing out at those causing the suffering.  This is difficult, but it is the example Jesus set for us and it is the example given to us by the Apostles and Martyrs. 

Jesus told us in the Gospel that we do not have to worry about our defense, because He will give us a wisdom in speaking that our adversaries cannot refute.  He Himself is the Wisdom of God and He is the Truth.  The enemies of Christ can refute neither.  The prophet Malachi tells us that for those who fear the Lord’s name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.  So pray, trust in the Lord, and quietly remain faithful.  The Day of the Lord is near!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.

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