Homily for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

posted Nov 14, 2016, 11:40 AM by Church Office   [ updated Nov 14, 2016, 11:40 AM by Michelle Massung ]

            When I was in high school at Methacton High School in Norristown, Pa, many years ago, I ran cross country.  Our cross country course was fairly long and you could not see the finish line because it was on the other side of a very steep hill.  One day during a race, a runner from Cheltenham High School ran up beside me and asked me how much longer until we got to the finish line.  I told him we still had a long way to go before we got there.  At that, he just stopped running.  He gave up the fight and quit. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us his final discourse on the second coming of Christ at the end times.  He tells us that there is a finish line for the end of the world and we are to put our trust in him and to have hope that if we persevere in our lives, we too will finish the race and be welcomed into the kingdom of Heaven.

            But why is Jesus giving this discourse now?  During the time of Jesus, the family was a very tight unit with father as the head of the family.  When the time came for the father to die, it was believed by the Jews that he would grow closer to God and could start to prophesy events in the future, mostly events that the family would encounter after his departure.  Mostly they dealt with how the family would be able to maintain its family honor in society.  Honor was the most cherished thing in the family and was too be maintained or even enhanced after the passing of the father.  This is contrasted with our society that tries to protect the accumulated wealth of the deceased.  We see this in our need for a will to avoid inheritance taxes and other entities that try and lower the amount of wealth passed on from the deceased to their loved ones after their death. 

            Jesus is the head of the surrogate family of followers that have left their immediate families to follow him.  They need this support system to stay alive, to gather food and shelter and other necessities of life.  Jesus is the head of this family and that is why he is called teacher and refers to his followers as his bothers and sisters, sons and daughters.  During the Gospel passage, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to die, so he needs to give his followers the same instruction as any good Jewish father would to his family.  The difference is that he is the only one in the group that knows he is going to die.  He starts to predict the future by foretelling the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.  This is the Jewish people’s most prized possession and it is destroyed about 40 years after his death.  He has also predicted his own death and resurrection and then he predicts his coming again at the end of times.  Why does he do this? He wants to give us hope for the journey.  We know he is telling the truth because everything else he told us that was going to occur happened. 

            So how does the message of Jesus pertain to us and our lives?  Well, how would we live our lives if we knew the exact date of our death or of the end of the world?  Would we work as much, keep those long hours at the office?  Would we spend more time with our families and friends?  Maybe we would spend more time in prayer and possibly come to the sacrament of reconciliation.  The point is that the priorities in our lives would change.  Jesus tells us that he is coming again and like the runner from Cheltenham, we do not know when the end of the race will be, but we have his assurance that it will come some day and we have the hope that our efforts will be rewarded in the next world if we live in this world like we will in the next.  If God is love, then heaven will be the ultimate paradise to share that love with others.  Yet, in order to prepare ourselves for the second coming, we need to live this life in a state of love as well; love of God and love of our neighbor.