Dear parish family,
This weekend marks the thirty third Sunday of Ordinary Time. A week from now we shall come to the end of the liturgical calendar. Our Scripture readings at Mass for this Sunday poignantly point to “the end of time” and our final victory in Christ. Indeed, the liturgy itself offers a sober reminder that this life is not our aim and that God’s justice will triumph in the end. As the ancient saying goes, “Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but final victory comes to the one who endures.” Let us endure until we triumph over all the forces of this world in Christ.
In the first reading for this Sunday, the prophet Malachi speaks of the day of the Lord. He paints two pictures. First, the fate of the evil one. Second, the triumph of the righteous who endures till the end. This reading serves as an encouragement to us in order to continue patiently in good works. The prophet ends with a promise of victory: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays” (Malachi 4:2). This is our hope and reward.
In the second reading, St. Paul encourages us to keep working hard to earn both earthly and heavenly life. Laziness or idleness is not compatible to Christian discipleship. The Church even teaches that sloth, that is, the reluctance to work, is one of the seven capital sins. Hard work yields good and enduring fruits. Hard work makes a good Christian. It abhors laziness and idleness. Sadly, many people today, including Christians, no longer appreciate hard work. Instead, they like to depend on others, and prefer a life without any serious commitment, including the spiritual. In order to feed this easy lifestyle, some would not hesitate to engage in evils like gossip, fraud, drugs, robbery, and even violent crimes. This is what St. Paul means by: “Now we hear that some of you are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with anyone else’s” (2 Thessalonians 3:11). A lazy person, even a Christian, yields easily to all sorts of vices.
In the Gospel, Jesus foretells the end of a time in the history of Israel. By warning that the Temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed in spite of its elegance and greatness, as this in fact happened later on in 70AD, the Lord reminds us that nothing of this world will last forever no matter how precious they are to us. The only thing that will endure is our soul and relationship with God. Therefore, we must keep our focus on eternity, despite even hardships and persecution: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name” (Luke 21:12). Sounds scary. Nevertheless, the Lord promises that “Your endurance will win you life” (Luke 21:19). He urges us to persevere in righteousness. He encourages us to endure difficult moments.
Today, brothers and sisters, we face difficulties that at times question our faith and test our relationship with God. These difficulties abound in our families, businesses, careers, workplaces, in our world and even in the Church at large. The midterm election this past week has brought many of those difficulties to the forefront of our consciousness. They even cause many of us sorrow and anxiety. However, if we endure all these patiently as Christ tell us, we shall have enough reasons to smile at the end, when “the sun of righteousness will shine on us with healing in its rays.” Until then, we need to press on with the firm conviction that Christ will be victorious over all evils, and for us, the struggle is worth the joy that awaits!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong Pham