Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time • Year C

Robert P. Hagan, O.S.A.
Prior Provincial
Province of St. Thomas of Villanova

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

There is nothing worse than false advertising. The dentist that says: “This won’t hurt a bit.” The used car dealer who claims “This one will run for ever.” The weather person who confidently proclaims a weekend of “partly cloudy with some sun” only to find me and my aching back shoveling 11 inches of “partly cloudy” off of the driveway!

Say what you want about Jesus, He can never be accused of false advertising or trying to entice us into following him with claims of a life free from struggle, trial and difficulty. There were false prophets in His time and they still exist today. People who attempt to attract followers, members, donors, students, patients, voters…with unrealized promises of pain-free, stress free, trouble free lives, requiring no real sacrifice.

Jesus does not ever sugar coat His message, but always gives it to us straight. Life is beautiful, but life is also hard. Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, but not immortal on our own, nor invulnerable to the trials of this world.

We all would like to insulate ourselves from hardship. Jesus points to the majestic Temple and its pillars of gold, ornate stones and marble, and reminds the community of the illusion…the cloud that people may be living under. This Temple looks like a mountain in the distance that can never be shaken, but it can most definitely, and it will.

Those of you who wish to follow me may be shaken too. Persecution, alienation and separation will be in the forecast for those of you who wish to follow me. Just as there will be earthquakes and other terrifying things in your life, and though it might be unthinkable to imagine the glory of this great structure shattered…it will happen.

Wow! Where is the good news in any of that forecast?

“I will be with you through it all!” Follow me and know that I know what you are going through. I went through it too. Follow me and I will help you. “You will be hated at times because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

You will not face your trials and tribulations alone. How many times did the disciples face a dark storm in the boat, fear on the water, despair from an all-night trip yielding no fish and no income, only to rediscover the sun… the Son of God… Jesus back in the boat with them, restoring faith, healing wounds and calling them forward from lives that seemed lost.

How many times has the forecast in my life turned dark, cloudy and grey? Loss is indeed part of life and Jesus was realistic and honest enough with us to help us face this reality. When life has shaken you to the core, trust that I will be with you in the quake. When you are at a loss for words and searching for answers to problems that seem unsolvable… “I will put words in your mouth, wisdom in your head and a relentless spirit back into your hearts.”

It has been said: “I didn’t know God was all I needed until God was all I had.” Let us not be afraid of the trials in life. Let us not give in to despair and discouragement. Rather, let us accept them, (through Him, with Him and in Him) with grace and courage when they inevitably come. Let us help one another to walk through the storms of life, and trust that Jesus, the Son of God, the light of the world will lead us all to brighter days.