Painting: Lucius Rossi, Leisure Hours
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malachi 3: 19-20a
II Thessalonians 3: 7-12
Luke 21: 5-19
By your perseverance, you will secure your live
In Moment Like This
In moment like this, I sing out a song
I sing out a love song to Jesus
In moment like this, I lift up my hands
I lift up my hands to the Lord
Singing I love You, Lord
Singing I love You, Lord
Singing I love You, Lord
I love You
The readings today either the first reading or the gospel are telling about the end of the world. The end of the world according to Luke is marked by these facts:
First, is the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. Jerusalem temple was a really magnificent temple. It was built as it is said by costly stones dan votive offerings. Why? Because it is the place where the Jewish pray and praise the Lord. The Jerusalem temple was not only a holy place but also revealed the Jewish identity: they are the chosen people, the beloved people by Yahweh. But it was ruined by the Romance later on. So, Jesus’s words “All that you see here-the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” are shaking words for the disciples because they are Jewish.
Second, there will be men who acclaim themselves as savior or Messiah, or Jesus, and proclaim the end of the world has come. Of course, this acclamation or this proclamation is false and perverted.
Third, there will be wars: nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. It seems there will not be peace at the end of the world.
Fourth, there will be natural disasters such as earthquakes, famines dan plagues from place to place, and awesome natural signs that come from the sky.
Fifth, there will be the capture, the persecution, and the murder of Jesus’s disciples.
By these five signs, we can say that the end of the world is a dreadful moment; the darkness covers the world; the calamities escort our journey as Jesus’s disciples. Whatever it be, the end of the world will put us in crisis: the crisis of faith, the crisis of love, the crisis of hope. The end of the world can be present in our personal life, during we live. The crises are so serious and they are so many.
It is a deep crisis when we have no reason anymore to follow Jesus, to be loyal to our beliefs because of hardship. What we have, have lost totally, what we have done actually are nothing, failures come causing the break of identity. We suffer a disease without hope to be cured. For sure, they will not be overcome in a short span of time. The crisis finds its peak when we face our moment of death. The end of the world is either judgment day or our personal death. The crisis challenges everyone and none can avoid it. So, know that this crisis will be met by those of us who declare as the disciple of Jesus. It is part of our journey as a follower of Christ.
But today also Jesus himself directs us to make the right choice: to be perseverant in the mid of crisis. But not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance, you will secure your life. Perseverance is to hold on to our identity that is as the disciple of Christ in every moment. Perseverance means to endure in faith, in love, and in hope of whatever storms may happen, perseverance means to walk on rugged terrain but with the eyes fixed on the horizon of God. It is not an easy thing to be done or to be chosen but the power of perseverance has been declared by Jesus himself. Perseverance proves that grace is within us so that we cannot be broken by the crisis. Jesus himself protects and veils us. Our choice to be perseverant with Jesus shakes the world. Why? By perseverance, we have chosen hope over desperate, by perseverance we cling to virtue than a wicked thing, through perseverance we pick up love than hate, and to hold on to faith than rely on empty power. Perseverance creates time to reaffirm our identity as the disciple of Christ, to imitate Jesus genuinely, to let God work, and to let rely on Him sincerely. We are purified in the middle of the crisis. Pure faith, pure love, and pure hope are the treasury we get. By reaffirming our identity, the temple is not made by the costly stones and votive offering which is easily destructed but from now on made by truth and spirits. The crisis has reminded us that faith, love, and hope find their beauty and their power in the crisis or at the end world when the darkness and hardship fall upon life. We are not the first person who face this difficult thing. We never are alone because our father and our mother of faith: the saint, the apostle, and the martyrs have shown their remarkable effort to overcome the crisis. They have finished their job and they have survived in the dark chapter of their lives. For us, they are the living model that encourages us to travel on the road of discipleship. Therefore, we imitate them as St Paul said: you know how one must imitate us. The imitation must be manifested in everyday activities. By imitating their model, there is work to be done. We understand that heaven is never a given and is never separated from our responsibilities and duties. Our place in the kingdom of God must be fought. Our journey to heaven has never been one of the shortcuts or settling for less. Believe that Jesus is always with us in every moment. On this conviction, we still continue our journey even though the wind of crisis blows hard.
Our faith will lead us to give testimony in the face of the end of the world or in the darkness of hardship. Perseverance has its clearest form in giving testimony. It is the time to bear testimony for our identity and to state who we are truly. Testimony is to proclaim the precious gift of the kingdom of God, testimony is to declare God’s promise that kindness will dominate and love is the victory for the final result. It is done not only by words but most are by actions of justice, kindness, of charity. Our such deeds come to extinguish the evil. Our testimony declines the false promises and fake idolatry. Our testimony opens the truth in the mid of a petty offering. Our testimony creates hope during the calamities and in front of worldly power, our testimony is the sword that silences them. Why? Because Jesus empowers us to do so. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. This is the source of our confidence to give testimony: His wisdom to shape an uncertain destiny. The divine help from the sky strengthens us so that we become the bravest person facing the strongest power. The light of wisdom makes us emerge from the dark corner to spread the light. We are like David who is fighting with Goliath. Therefore, to be bold in giving testimony is not the path for the faint-hearted, for those who do evil work, or who choose to leave God’s way. Testimony has carried us up the long, rugged path towards the kingdom of God. The testimony is the price and our promise of being Jesus’s disciples since we have been baptized. We carry forth the great of perseverance and we deliver our testimony to every corner of the universe. We are the keepers of this legacy. So, let us mark this icy moment in remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the dark moment let us sing a love song to Jesus. In the deepest ocean of bitterness let us lift up our hands to the Lord, singing I love You, Lord. We refuse our journey of faith to be ended or to surrender, is defeated. This is our greatness and our greatness must be forged with Jesus. God shows His majesty from our actions of testimony and of perseverance.
At the end of the world either on judgment day or our personal death, testimony is the sun of perseverance because Jesus himself rises on the trial and on the crisis of life to proclaim eternity. We are just the rays and Jesus is the sun because His grace is within us.
Remember that the end of the world is coming blazing like oven. The crime and evildoers will be burnt by the fire: the day is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch. For the sinful, the Day will be a day of fiery purification; for the righteous, it will be the Day of healing. No more evil, wicked, falseness, idolatry. And who is in perseverance or fear God’s name, the end of the world is the beginning of eternity with confidence and joy rather than with fear and dread. The dark moment and the icy moment are the moment of salvation for us and for all creatures. By our testimony, we deliver the grace that is within us to the world so that the invitation of the kingdom of God becomes a decisive moment: to be chosen or not, to be followed or not. Through our perseverance, the world knows who is behind us, the world will hear the divine wisdom because Jesus will speak and will act through our actions. Then there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays. The cross is the sun with its healing rays. The shining cross emerging in the sky is an awesome sight and a mighty sign. At the end of the world, Jesus comes to rule with justice. The song of praise resounds everywhere. Harp and melodious songs fulfill the air of the universe. The sea, and the rivers clap their hand, and the mountains shout with them for joy. Finally, the end of the world is a happy moment because the sun of perseverance turns into the sun of justice. All this will prevail because Jesus will make it. From now on, let this fact be told to the future world by our testimony and our perseverance.
Saint Therese of Child Jesus of the Holy Face said:
“When I am feeling nothing, when I am incapable of praying, of practicing virtue, then is the moment for seeking opportunities, nothing, which please Jesus more than mastery of world or even martyrdom suffered with generosity. For example, a smile, a friendly word, when I would want to say nothing, or put on a look of annoyance, etc.
It is not for the purpose of weaving my crown, gaining merits, it is in order to please Jesus… When I do not have any opportunities, I want at least to tell him frequently that I love Him; this is not difficult, it keeps the fire going. Even though this fire of love would seem to me to have gone out, I would like to throw something on it, and Jesus could then relight it”.
Note: This reflection is inspired by Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech 2009 so some sentences are quoted from his inauguration speech
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