SUNDAY HOMILY FOR 33RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
THEME: HUMANITY’S OBITUARY.
BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong
1. Humanity’s Obituary. Last week we used epitaphs to deepen our faith in the resurrection of the body and to further prepare for Life after this life. This week, let us do so using obituaries. Here’s an obituary joke. When his 86-year-old Dad died, a stingy man called a newspaper office and asked how much they charge for an obituary. “$5 per word”, they told him. He said, ‘just print “Michael dead” for $10’. Then the newspaper office told him they require a minimum of 5 words. He thought for a moment and said, ‘then write: “Michael dead, wheelchair for sale”’. Sisters and Brothers, today’s Scripture readings inspire us to react to any doomsday prediction for humanity, any deadly threats, any natural or man-made disasters, by first living our lives in readiness for eternal life. In today’s Gospel reading (Lk 21:5-19) our Lord speaks of the last things and what our attitude should be before His 2nd coming: “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” In addition, there will be persecution of believers. Our Lord said these will be opportunities for us to give testimony about Him and that our perseverance will secure our lives. Almost everyone alive on this planet at this time can understand Tom Engelhardt’s fears in his article of November 3rd, 2022, titled “In the World’s Obituary, Who Will Have the Last Word?” (The Nation). There, he feared that the Obituary of the entire humanity may soon have to be written, no thanks to nuclear weapons and climate change combined. As Christians we respond as our Lord has taught us: repentance and perseverance in doing good.
2. Our Reaction. Likewise, in today’s 1st reading (Mal 3:19-20a) our mortality and God’s judgement are announced, and we are expected to make positive reactions by living in preparation for death, judgement, Heaven or hell. However, when Paul preached the Gospel to the Thessalonians, instead of a positive reaction of living better lives, some people decided to stop working as we heard in today’s 2nd reading (2 Thess 3:7-12). Such people felt that since the Kingdom of God was at hand, there was no need planting, selling, building or providing for the future. Paul gave a pragmatic solution: “if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” Even more effective was Paul’s own example of working hard while being ready to depart: “in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you.”
3. My Obituary. Like Paul’s example of working hard while being ready for the afterlife, here is a recent true and even striking example. When Sonia Todd of Idaho, was diagnosed of advanced cancer and informed she was dying, she did something unusual: she wrote her own obituary. Here are excerpts with rather serious jokes and Gospel lessons: “My name is Sonia Todd and I died of cancer at the age of 38. I decided to write my own obituary because they are usually written in a couple of different ways that I just don’t care for…. I never really accomplished anything of note. Other than giving birth to my two wonderful, lovable, witty and amazing sons (James and Jason), marrying my gracious, understanding and precious husband (Brian), and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior – I have done very little. None of that requires obit space that I have to shell out money for. …My life was not perfect and I encountered many, many bumps in the road. I would totally scrap the years of my life from age 16 to 20 … ok, maybe 14 to 22…. Besides there are some benefits to dying youngish. For example, I still owe on my student loans and the joke’s on them cuz I’m not paying them. Plus, I am no longer afraid of serial killers, telemarketers, or the IRS. I don’t have to worry about wrinkles or the ozone layer and/or hide from the news during election season.” Sonia made a positive reaction to the news of her impending death. Dear Sisters and Brothers, let us pray for the grace of perseverance in doing good works until the Lord calls us to Himself. Such good works and perseverance should become our legacy. Let those who will write our obituary not have to tell lies.
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