Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year C

Kevin DePrinzio_Homily.png

Kevin M. DePrinzio, O.S.A.
Villanova University
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Mal 3:19-20a
Ps 98:5-6,7-8,9
2 Thess 3:7-12
Lk 21:5-19

I know what the end times are like.

I know the feelings, the anxiety, the worry, the chaos, being overwhelmed, trying to keep my head above water, sleepless nights, restlessness.

Yes, I know what the end is like – the end of the semester, that is.

I’m not that far removed from college and grad school, all the papers, additional assignments, all coming at once.

Certainly it can feel like the end of our world.

In fact the only thing perhaps getting us through it may be Thanksgiving, only a weekend- a-half away, where we can try to catch up or postpone the inevitable.

Talk about doom and gloom.

And yet, a light glimmers at the end of the tunnel. Hope is there waiting for us when we complete our last final, our last paper.

All of this, of course, is not exclusive to the life of a student.

We all have times in our lives where we believe our worlds are coming to an end. These are usually times of high stress and intensity, huge disappointment, great upset, and despair, and they can be caused sometimes by our own decisions, by family members or friends, world events, natural disasters.

The more the people involved, the greater stress, unease, and chaos.

We think of things like illness of loved ones, divorce, the Church scandal, 9/11, war. Certainly, in each of these events, the world as we have come to know it, comes to an end.

We can psychologize it, we can rationalize it, but it remains all too real for us, and it has been part of our history since day one. What we do with it, how we handle it, that makes all the difference in the world. That is where today’s Scripture comes into play for us. We have what we call apocalyptic readings in both the first reading and the gospel.

Scripture scholars tell us that they came out of the lived experience of the people of the time.

While we do not know much about the context out of which our first reading from the prophet Malachi was written, we can certainly see that there was a great concern about “the Day of the Lord,” the day of vindication and justice for the world, and what it would look like for God’s People.

As we heard, “the sun of justice will arise with its healing rays” for those who have remained faithful to the Lord.

The people of Luke’s community, as we have come to know, are a mixed Jewish and Gentile community struggling to find and claim their identity as followers of Jesus, apart from non-believers.

If the temple in Jerusalem had strong meaning to them, they would have had to reframe their identity after it was destroyed, since this Gospel was written after its destruction.

In addition, they were already dealing with the fact, that the Second Coming was no longer considered as imminent as it once was.

Surely, all that they had known and thought to be true had come to an end, and so Luke wanted to refocus them and to warn them of getting caught up in these matters and concentrate and persevere in following the Lord.

We hear Jesus say, “See that you not be deceived,” “do not be terrified,” “not a hair on your head will be destroyed,” and “by your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Now, while it’s consoling to know that we’re not and have not been the only ones who experience our world – the world as we know it – coming to an end, what does our faith tell us, what else does Scripture tell us?

Quite simply, quite beautifully, both our faith and our Scriptures tell us that in these end times, while we know neither the day nor the hour,

Christ is near.

Christ is present.

Luke tells us that, in these moments, “not a hair on our heads will be destroyed,” for God is here.

We believe as followers of Christ, that he is always with us, both in the good times and the really tough times of our lives. Our task is to look for him, to persevere, and not to lose hope! And when we find him, show others, help them in their distress to see the Christ present.

When we gather Sunday after Sunday for Eucharist, each of us comes with a different story, or at a different part of the story of life, whether in its high moments, its low moments, or the in-between moments.

While we may all be at a different place, we share the one bread and the one cup.

It’s significant that the actions before we eat and drink are break and pour, for our faith tells that when are lives are broken open, when they are broken and feel like they are poured out with nothing left, that’s the moment to share, that’s the moment of grace, to experience Christ in a deep way.

Yes, we are in the end times.

In these times, let us eat and drink of the Christ who is near us, within us and among us.