Father Jame Gilhooley
November 17, 2013
Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
I was pulling out from the curb. Then I noticed a police
ticket on my windshield. I pulled over. Happily it was not a ticket but a pamphlet. It invited me to consider where I wanted to spend eternity. Inside the pamphlet was a laboriously written note with many misspellings. It warned me about the imminent arrival of the Second Coming.
I have smiled patronizingly at people who hand out such end- of-the-world pamphlets and messages. I fear my attitude matched that of Mark Twain’s. When told the world was coming to an end, he snapped, “Good. We can do without it.”
However, my patronizing days are done. The late Scripture scholar Raymond Brown advises that end-of-the-world people perform a valuable service for us. They keep the Second Coming before our eyes.
People such as these forcefully remind us of our own belief. After all, in each Sunday’s Liturgy we recite in the Nicene Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” After the Consecration, we say, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again.” Finally in the Pater Noster we pray for the Second Coming in the prayer Jesus Himself taught us. We even beg, “Thy kingdom come.” Rightly so! Pierre Teilhard de Chardin tells us “we must renew in ourselves the desire for the great coming.”
We share faith in the Parousia with a good number of our fellow citizens. A US News and World Report tells of a poll it conducted. Almost sixty percent of Americans believe the world is slated to come to an abrupt ending. About fifty percent are convinced there will be an anti-Christ. Twenty percent believe the Second Coming and anti-Christ will appear in a few years.
We would be unwise to get into the predicting business. Many religious groups in our lifetime have grandly prophesied both the day, hour, and minute. For their efforts they have come up with scrambled eggs spread most ignobly across their respective faces. We had best take the advice of Jesus we know not the day nor the hour. Indeed the prophet advises, “Plan then as if Christ’s return were years away, but live as though it were today.
The Fifth Lateran Council of the early sixteenth century expressly forbade anyone of us looking into a crystal ball. It denied us the questionable luxury of predicting either the time of the Second Coming or the arrival of the anti-Christ. It was a sound prohibition then. It remains so today no matter what the temptation may be to the contrary. Vincent McCorry put it this way, “What matters is not the timing but the fact.”
In the meantime, we Christians have much to do. Unlike the people who St Paul sternly admonishes in his second letter to the Thessalonians (3:7-12), we cannot idle our time away. Nor can we afford the luxury, as Paul says, of minding everybody’s business but our own.
We must attempt to become more exciting Catholics. One way of doing that is by making the world about us a more attractive place to live in. Charles Dickens has said that no one is useless in the world who lightens the burden of it for someone else. But Dickens would endorse the line that true love is an action, not just a feeling.
It is estimated that thirty three million Americans are poor. And perhaps as many as another thirty million are on the ropes financially. Many of these are children.
That so many of our fellow citizens, some of them infants, go to bed hungry each night is a scandal we Catholics cannot ignore. We must demand systemic changes in our structures. But more importantly we must work for them.
To be a Catholic today requires that we be a counter-cultural people. What a force for good we could be! We make up an astounding 23% of the US population.
Perhaps you may find your mandate in this summation written by some clever author. “It is up to you to illumine the area about you. You do not have to groan over everything your community lacks. You are there to bring it what it needs. Where hatred, malice, and discord reign, you will put love, pardon, and peace. For lying you will bring truth. For despair, hope. For doubt, faith. There where there is sadness, you will give joy.”
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 17, 2013
The Passage through a Passing World. A homily for the 33rd Sunday of the Year
In the month of November the Church has us ponder the Four Last Things: death judgment, heaven and hell. As the golden gown of autumn gives way to the lifeless look of winter we too are encouraged to see that our own lives are on a trajectory that leads ultimately to autumn and then the winter of death. But for those who have faith this passage to death leads ultimately to glory. Scripture says, And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever (1 John 2:17).
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
It has been traditional to reflect on an end-of-the-world gospel passage as we approach the end of the liturgical year. We will also be offered a similar gospel passage on the First Sunday of Advent. It is important to note this because, from a biblical perspective, the end of one world is not such a tragic event since it also announces the beginning of a new one. A sorrowful Goodbye must sometimes be accepted before there can be a joyous Hello!