YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: LOYALTY TO JESUS
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Luke 12:49-53
Message #485 “The End of the Times” (Dec.31 1992)
- The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother calls herself “the Prophetess of these last times” (letter a), for she has “announced to you many times that the end of the times and the coming of Jesus in glory is very near” (letter c). In her message, she wants to help us understand the signs of this event as already described in Scriptures, particularly in the Gospels, in the letters of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and “they are becoming a reality during these years” (letter d).
b) “The first sign is the spread of errors which lead to the loss of faith and to apostasy“ (letter e). These errors are spread by “false teachers, renowned theologians who are no longer teaching the truths of the Gospel, but pernicious heresies” (letter f). False prophets will come (letter g; cf Mt 24:4-5, 11). “The day of the Lord will not come unless the great apostasy comes first” (letter h; cf 2 Thess 2:3). “There will be false teachers among you. These will seek to introduce disastrous heresies and will even set themselves against the Master who ransomed them. Many will listen to them and will follow their licentious ways” (letter i; cf 2 Peter 2:1-3).
c) “The second sign is the outbreak of wars and fratricidal struggles” (letter j). “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many places” (letter k; cf Mt 24:6-8, 12-13).
d) “The third sign is the bloody persecution of those who remain faithful to Jesus and to his Gospel” (letter l). “They will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all because of me. And then many will abandon the faith; they will betray and hate one another” (letter n; cf Mt 24:9-10).
e) “The fourth sign is the horrible sacrilege, perpetrated by him who sets himself against Christ, that is, the Antichrist. He will enter into the holy temple of God and will sit on his throne and have himself adored as God” (letter o). “One day, you will see in the holy place he who commits the horrible sacrilege. The prophet Daniel spoke of this. Let the reader seek to understand” (letter q; cf Mt 24:15). The Blessed Mother explains that the horrible sacrilege will pertain to the abolition of the “daily Sacrifice” which is the Holy Mass (letters s and t). “By accepting the Protestant doctrine, people will hold that the Mass is not a sacrifice but only a sacred meal, that is to say, a remembrance of that which Jesus did at his Last Supper. And thus, the celebration of Holy Mass will be suppressed” (letter u).
f) “The fifth sign consists in extraordinary phenomena, which occur in the skies” (letter v). “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; and the stars will fall from the sky; and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (letter w; cf Mt 24:29). The Blessed Mother mentioned as an example the miracle of the sun at Fatima (letter x). “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven. All the tribes of the earth will mourn, and men will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven, with great power and splendor” (letter y; cf Mt 24:30).
g) All these signs that the world is experiencing are part of the great tribulation, “and the moment of the full manifestation of the Antichrist is drawing ever nearer” (letter A). “And so I urge you to remain strong in the faith, secure in trust and ardent in charity” (letter B). “I am always with you, to tell you that the coming about of these signs indicates to you with certainty that the end of the times, with the return of Jesus in glory, is close at hand” (letter C).
- The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading (Jer 38:4-6, 8-!0) is the story about the prophet Jeremiah. During his time (600 BC), the kingdom of Israel was tragically divided. The northern kingdom has fallen into the hands of the Assyrians. And at this time, what remains was the southern kingdom of Judah, where Jerusalem belongs. Jeremiah faithfully declared God’s messages to the people, urging them to reform their lives and trust in Him. Yet they rejected these messages and even tried to kill His prophet. As a result of their infidelity and stubbornness, the kingdom of Judah fell into the hands of the Babylonians, the city of Jerusalem was ransacked, and the entire Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon.
b) The Responsorial Psalm is a prayer imploring God’s help: “Lord, come to my aid.” As illustrated in the life of Jeremiah, the Lord rescued him from his enemies. Indeed, the Lord always comes to the aid of His faithful servants.
c) The second reading (Heb 12:1-4) is an invitation to dedicate our lives fully to God, through conversion, and “persevere in running the race”, “while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” The author urges us to follow the example of Jesus, who endured the opposition with humility and meekness. When we are tempted to complain during difficult times, the author has this admonition: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.”
d) The Gospel this Sunday is a challenge by Jesus to remain faithful to him at all times. He should be the first and most important person in our lives. In our life, there may be times when we have to make the most important choice: between Jesus Christ and mere creatures. That is why he talks of fire and division. Following Jesus faithfully has some difficult and painful consequences. But we have to prove that Jesus is the first and only option in our life. After all, the first commandment of God is: “Love God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and will all your strength.”
e) In summary, the readings have a common thread that runs throughout: loyalty to God. Jeremiah proved his loyalty against all odds. The Lord rescued and rewarded him. The song in the Responsorial Psalm is an affirmation of this fact. The author of the letter to the Hebrews urges Christ’s followers to persevere in running the race, keeping focus on Jesus Christ. The Gospel is a strong challenge to fidelity to Jesus. No creature can compete with Jesus for our loyalty, not even our loved ones. Hence, it can happen that even families can be divided because of Jesus. Always, the right choice is Jesus. And the Blessed Mother, in her message, is reminding us to persevere in our loyalty to Jesus, for the time is very near when he will come again in glory. These are now the “end of times.” And if we hold out to the end, ever loyal to Jesus, the victory is surely ours.
- Points for Reflection
a) “I have come to set the earth on fire.” In the context of this Gospel account, fire could mean love – the love that Jesus brings: total self-giving. This love is like that of fire, for it burns with zeal, and consumes all selfishness and pride. Hence, this love transforms. It leads to conversion of hearts. It also purifies. As a consequence of the process of purification is division – separating the pure elements from its alloys. When we are consumed by the love of God, we are on fire. We are filled with zeal, energy and courage. We become instruments of purification in society. We also become instruments to melt the coldness and selfishness in people’s hearts. The reason why many of us do not have strong impact on society is because we lack this kind of love. We are content with doing our routines, and we choose to just conform to the culture of the present society. We need Jesus to set us on fire – love, purification, zeal and conversion.
b) Jesus is the King of Peace. But he said that he did not come to bring peace but division. In the first place, he has come to establish true peace – one that is based on truth, justice and love, the peace that only God can give. He did not come to establish peace that the world knows – one that is achieved through political maneuvers, or through lies and half-truths, or through the force of arms. That is not true peace. What kind of peace do we have right now: true peace, or superficial peace?
c) Jesus has come to bring division. This means that following Jesus puts one on the side of truth, justice, love and holiness. And this position does not accept any compromise. Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me.” There are people, and they can be our loved ones, who are on the other side. If we are faithful to Jesus, we will come to a point when we have to make a decision. Whom do we choose to side with: Jesus, or our loved ones? God, or creatures? We ask God that we may be given the wisdom and courage to always choose Jesus over and above anything and anybody in this world.
d) “Blood is thicker than water.” This saying has been proven true since time immemorial. But nowadays, this is not true anymore. We see families torn apart because of inheritance and money issues. During elections, family members are turned into bitter political enemies. In short, blood relationship is not anymore the most important thing in life nowadays. Pope St. John Paul II said, “The greatest misfortune of this age is that people consider money as the highest good.” This is what we witness now. There is too much hurt and violence in the world because people are obsessed with having more money, power and worldly things, and they don’t care about anybody anymore – “son against father, mother against daughter, three against two, two against three”. Unless and until people return to God, and once again make Him the center of their lives and families, there will be no peace in the world.
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Sa tingin mo, mayroon bang mensahe ang mga nangyayaring kaganapan sa kalikasan at sa buong mundo?
2. Kung sa pagsunod at paglilingkod mo sa Diyos ikaw ay itatakwil ng iyong mahal sa buhay, ano ang iyong magiging desisyon?
3. Bakit agad tayong napapagod at natatamad magdasal at maglingkod sa Diyos, pero hindi naman tayo ganyan sa ibang mga gawain sa mundo, tulad ng pamamasyal, panonood ng tv, atbp?