YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: REVISION TIME : TAKE CARE NOT TO BE DECEIVED!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * Mal 3 : 19 – 20, 2 Thess 3 : 7 – 12, Lk 21 : 5 – 19.
The question about when and how the world will end (eschatology) is quite a polemic one. Christian denominations like Jehovah’s Witness should be getting tired by now of making unrealized speculations about the end time. They are wanton reactions to such weird biblical passages like we find in today’s readings : ‘The day is coming now, burning like a furnace when all the arrogant and evil doers will be like stubble’, Mal 3 : 19 – 20. ‘All the things you are staring at now ( the magnificent temple edifices) will be destroyed’.
B. CONCEPTIONS OF THE END TIME
There are about 4 biblical conceptions of the end time ;
1. The day of the Lord – the day of our individual judgment which is your day of death.
2. The fall of Jerusalem – The Jews had only one temple at Jerusalem built originally by King Solomon. It was unfortunately destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 587 B.C. The second temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C under the leadership of Zerubbabel after the Jews returned from their exile. In 20 B.C, Herod the great undertook the complete rebuilding of the temple. But Jesus predicted the destruction of that temple by the time he departed from it, Matt 24 : 1 – 3. Three days after it the veil of the temple was rent because its sanctity, glory and defense had departed. In 70 AD, the Roman army laid waste the whole edifice. During the time of Julian the apostate (331 – 363 AD) the Jews were encouraged by him to rebuild the temple in opposition to the Christian religion. They began the project but after a while a mysterious fire broke out from the ground and frightened away the builders till today.
3. The second coming of Christ – the concept of the parousia is the final day of the Lord when everything will be brought under the dominion of Christ.
4. The era of persecution – When children of God will undergo a lot of torture at the emergence of the Antichrist.
C. REVISION WEEK
At the end of every liturgical year we are made to listen to a number of such apocalyptic/ eschatological readings just to enable us evaluate our progress in learning Christ – more like the revision weeks when the Church like any wise institution of learning prepares its students of heaven for the imminent exam. This exam (second coming of Christ) is inevitable and the date has been fixed but we do not know it. What is required of us is to listen more to our teachers ( the priests) and attend our lectures (with the Church activities as our lecture halls), read our books ( the Bible and other spiritual books) and do our assignments (practice the virtues, especially love). November time is a good time to die in the year of the Church because it is a special period we are made to be sober like students preparing for an exam.
Good Christians must never be afraid of the coming of Christ if we actually love him and live in communion with him. But if we love our sins more, then he will come like a thief. Those who are waiting for him will be given credit, Lk 12 : 45f while those who are not will be discredited and ‘they shall beat their chests’, Matt 25 : 21 – 46. At this revision week, we ought to evaluate our spiritual progress after so many years of Christianity to know if we are better lovers of Christ in terms of ; prayer, fasting and abstinence from sin, tithing/ offerings to the Church and the poor, obedience to the commandments – are we better lovers of our neighbours, do we have better control of anger, lustful appetites, pride, vanities and selfishness?
The Lord shall come with 2 weapons of judgment ; justice and mercy. If you want to find the judge merciful to you, then begin to practice that mercy on your neighbour before he comes otherwise, prepare to face his justice, Matt 18 : 23 – 35. Jesus tells us in today’s gospel that our endurance in the midst of these revision exercises will gain us our souls, Lk 21 : 19. We have the right books ( Word of God) to buy and read and by assimilating the contents we get prepared. We have a field where we should cultivate and work hard. The 2nd reading warns us not to be lazy. St Paul says it clearly, ‘Let anyone who will not work not eat’. There are so many beggars today in the Church who depend on others’ sweat – even so many preachers and visionaries who will not do any other thing than sit down one place and be giving people false prophesies and be collecting their money.
The Church is the body of Christ. The presence of Christ is the real thing not the building of physical structures which many of us often emphasize. If Christ departs then we are finished. He departs from his Church when there is so much evil and corruption ; When there is so much quest for money especially among the ministers. He departs from the Church when there is so much immorality especially among priests since the Latin adage says ‘Corruptio optima malus est’ ( The corruption of the best is the worst form of evil).
Finally, we must take care not to be deceived by wrong doctrines, corruption and the tendency towards idleness/ laziness. We may succeed in building very big Cathedrals Churches and structures but when we end up driving away the poor from the Church in the process of building them, Christ departs and what happened to the Jews may happen to us. We should remember that the danger of Islamization is not a myth in Nigeria today. The signs are all around us and may come to fruition if we Christians do not spiritually sit up.
Happy Sunday dear friends!