The 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Mal 3:19-20 + 2 Thes 3:7-12 + Lk 21:5-19
November 13, 2016
“‘By your perseverance you will secure your lives.’”
On this last Sunday before the feast of Christ the King, Jesus teaches us that we can better understand when “that day” (that Malachi speaks of in our First Reading) will occur, if we think about two other days: today and tomorrow.
In the Gospel passage, Jesus’ “today” was an ordinary day on which “some people were speaking of how the temple was adorned with precious stones.” These people were thinking only of “today” in the secular sense: that is, only of material things. Such people become trapped in “today”. They have no real future: neither a tomorrow, nor hope for “that day.” They are caught up in the present moment, encouraged to do so by a secular culture.
Jesus points out that while this sort of “today” may enthrall, it will not last forever: “the day will come when not one stone will be left on another, but it will all be torn down.” Suddenly, on “that day” these people will be shocked: they will be taken from their “today”, from their fixation on this world. Every secular today comes to an end.
Most of us Christians, hopefully, are not fixed solely on today. We know, even regarding worldly concerns, that it’s important to focus on “tomorrow”. Needs such as retirement planning, children’s education, and meetings next week all require attention to our tomorrows.
For most of us, “tomorrow” helps give focus to each “today”. We realize soberly that we never know how many tomorrows we might get. So there is a constant balance that we strive for between the two. “Tomorrow” might mean many things: next week, next year, or the year we turn 65. Regardless, it is a time we can see in the future, and fix in our minds. It is a secular tomorrow, which may well bear importance, but which certainly will come to an end. It is a tomorrow that does not yet exist, but which will eventually pass away as surely as today.
Jesus points our attention, however, beyond every earthly “tomorrow” imaginable. Jesus points our attention to “that day”. “That day” is the day on which you will die. “That day” is also the end of the world: at least, the end of yours.
So many people grow fearful thinking about a cataclysmic end of the planet, even though the vast majority of us will never face such an event. But not many seem to worry much about the end of their own personal lives, which everyone is guaranteed to face. Many in the mass media and society draw interest from describing the end of the planet, yet these are often the same ones who hide the reality of human death, and the brevity of this world and its goods.
Ask Jesus for the courage, trust, and simplicity of heart to live today, and plan tomorrow, with “that day” always in your mind and heart. That day is a door that opens to eternity.