33rd Sunday Year C
Theme of the week: The signs of the end time manifest as crosses in our present times. Persevere in our mission work, as we are spiritually fed through our work.
Have you ever contemplated on eternity? This seems an odd question to ask, for “eternity” is a word we hear often in our Christian lexicon. While we may be familiar with the word and the Christian teachings associated with it, how many of us really contemplate on eternity? Probably not many. It is almost a case of “familiarity breeds contempt” that we do not contemplate eternity. For compared with eternity, our life on earth is a like a drop in the ocean. Yet, if our eternal life is that ocean, this drop in the ocean is going to determine what the entire ocean is going to be perpetually calm and blissful; or perpetually stormy and turbulent. Therefore, it is rather ironic that many of us live as if our life on earth is all there is to life – that we emphasise so much on this little drop that we forget there is the ocean. Many are losing sight of the eternal implications of our individualistic and materialistic living.
The Scripture passages this week focus our minds on our eternal life as we reflect on the end time.
The First Reading is drawn from the Book of Malachi, written some time after the Temple was rebuilt in 515BC, at a time when the Jewish community was experiencing a decline in their moral standards. It encourages the people to lead righteous lives. We recall the story of the martyrdom of a mother and her seven children in the previous week’s First Reading. Righteous living often exacts a cost on the righteous. In the Gospel, Jesus prophesised of “wars and insurrections” (verse 9) at the end time, where his followers will be persecuted (verse 12, 17) and betrayed by those closest to them (verse 16). In the face of such prophesy, am I spiritually ready? In this context of persecution that we take comfort of the redemptive vision of the end time painted by the First Reading, where “the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings” (verse 20); whereas the evil-doers will be completely burnt up in the furnace, leaving “neither root nor branch” (verse 19).
The signs of the end times are apt reminders to us in our current times, as we face the challenges of secularism and relativism. For the signs for the end time also manifest themselves as crosses that we carry in our present times. In our journey through life on earth, as Christians, we often face personal disasters and persecution by the secular world. Whether we are standing up for the unborn in the case of abortion; the sick and vulnerable in the case of euthanasia; or the sanctity of Christian marriage, we face persecution from our secular society. Amidst these trials, let us not lose sight of our ultimate goal, which is Christ’s promise of eternal life. As I contemplate eternity, am I mindful that I am asked to prepared for eternity through my earthly life? As Paul explained in the Second Reading, even if the end time is imminent, it is no reason to stop our work on earth. For in addition to spiritually nourishing those whom we serve, through our service, we ourselves are fed. In verse 10 of the Second Reading, Paul said, “anyone unwilling to work should not eat”. While Paul was laying a rule relating to physical food, this is true too for our spiritual nourishments – we must constantly do God’s work in order to be spiritually fed.
Let us never cease working for a perpetually calm and blissful ocean in the eternal life – for us and for all we serve, including those who persecute and betray us. May God grant us peace and serenity.