Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Do not be Deceived.
- Malachi 3:19-20. The day is coming, blazing like an oven, but for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12. Paul worked day and night, laboring to the point of exhaustion. All Christians should earn the food they eat by working quietly.
- Luke 21:5-19. The temple will be destroyed… signs and wonders in the heavens… persecution… yet do not worry about your defense. It will be given you what to say. By patient endurance you will save your lives.
Thoughts for your Consideration: By John Gonzalez
I am not sure why it surprises me when I get depressed after glossing over the newspaper headlines or listening to the opinionated pundits that inundate radio and TV. Comedian John Stewart recently told many activists “These are hard times, but they are not the end times.” His calming message during the recent “Rally to Restore Sanity” was a welcomed message for those of us who are struggling to turn the tide of American fundamentalism and political extremism. In these times of fear and disillusionment his words seem to be out there in the wilderness while the message of fear and distress continues to saturate our primary media outlets. What are we to do in times like these?
The Gospel readings for this week tell us that we are to be patient in times like these. Furthermore Jesus and Paul tell us that we should adopt a pragmatic perseverance during this era of deception. Malachi and Jesus tell us that the Kingdom of God will indeed come into this world, and when it does supreme justice and equality will triumph. Many believe that signs of war and famine will be a prelude to the end but in the Gospel Jesus tells us “do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Instead we are told that many will deceive us by taking advantage of these times with their own plans based on either their own self-righteous pride or an evil and self-interested agenda. We are not allowed to be deceived by these simple political or social solutions. We are instead told to persevere in following Christ and to exemplify the healing love and immeasurable compassion that Christ exhibited to all members of the human family.
This may sound like a very nice and gentle approach, but keep in mind that through this approach Jesus won persecution and death by the Cross. In the Gospel Jesus warns us that in following his example and by not allowing ourselves to be deceived by extremism we too will face persecution. Sadly, for many of us, this persecution will not come from any obvious enemy but from family and friends. By living and preaching a message of forgiveness and compassion it will not be foreign extremists that we will have to fear but our own countrymen who will feel that we have betrayed them in reaching out to others the message of God’s great love.
For the most part St. Paul and the Apostles were persecuted not from foreign invaders or occupiers but from their own Jewish community. In a time of great distress the Jewish community sided with the extreme factions of their community, the Zealots and the Sicarii. In the end they rallied the Jewish community to rebel violently against the Romans. This was the warning that Jesus gave his disciples, to not join these extreme factions. History has gone on to prove that Jesus was right. The Zealots achieved nothing but the complete destruction of Jerusalem. The Christians followed a different path, and although they suffered great persecution at first, their perseverance eventually won them the amazing conversion of the Greco-Roman world.
The example of St. Paul the Apostle in the second reading is based on honesty, integrity and hard work. Our way is to live by example. Through integrity and honesty in how we live our lives with fidelity to the Gospel message of universal love and compassion we will be transforming agents of God’s love to this world that is driven by fear and anguish. Many will complain about us and we will suffer insults and persecutions but as Jesus tells us “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”