A reflection on the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time. First reading: Malachi 3.19-20; Second reading: 2 Thessalonians 3.7-12; Gospel: Luke 21.5-19. Adapted from a reflection by Fr. Gerald Curry, S.F.M., featured in Scarboro Missions magazine, October 1992.
When Jesus tells the disciples that there will come a time when all earthly things will pass away, even the great Temple of Jerusalem, the first thing the disciples want to know is when and how is this going to happen. That is a natural response on hearing that everything that we understand as powerful and enduring in our world will one day fall. Jesus answers by telling the disciples not to listen to those who foretell of end times, not to be deceived by these false prophets, and not to be afraid when we hear of wars and insurrections. In these times, our commitment to him will be challenged, Jesus says, and we will be asked to give testimony to the things that truly matter.
What is Jesus asking of his disciples, of us? To give testimony—to proclaim Christ—is to live and proclaim the Reign of God. In his life and teaching, Jesus revealed to us the signs of the Reign of God. At the centre and core of Jesus’ teaching are two signs that are essential for us as human beings and for our world. To overlook them, to somehow not understand them, is to overlook and misunderstand the core of Jesus’ teaching.
The first sign is oneness or unity. Jesus attempts to teach us, in word and deed, that we are all one, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, of the one loving God. Therefore we cannot be racist and Christian at the same time. How much of our world’s problems stem from racism. People’s colour and ethnic background are often the basis of injustice and of war. By using parables like the Good Samaritan and the Final Judgement, Jesus denounced discrimination and exclusion, and called us to inclusion. In his daily life he included the leper, the widow, and the orphan, and all those excluded from the mainstream because of sickness, social status, or poverty.
A second core teaching of Christ that flows from unity is sharing. Jesus challenges us all to share. The parable of the rich man who hoarded his goods and was therefore not rich in the sight of God; the parable of Lazarus who gave half of what he owned and of the widow who gave even more. Jesus demanded of Peter to give not only his tunic, but his cloak as well. He commanded the multitudes to share the loaves so that all would have enough.
For Jesus, the signs of the Reign of God were that the blind see, the lame walk, and that captives are set free, and his mission was to proclaim this Reign of God in word and deed. We as individuals and as church are called to do the same.
Fr. Gerald Curry’s first 15 years as a priest were spent in Japan. Returning to Canada, he was twice editor of Scarboro Missions magazine and was elected to a term on the Society’s General Council. He also worked in mission education and the promotion of the Society. He is now retired and living in Sydney, Nova Scotia.