Theme of the Sunday: Courage, Raise Your Head! The imagery used in the readings today is not difficult to follow, but must be properly understood. The first reading and the gospel are not about the end of the world. Though the readings speak of “the end of the world” the world they mean is “the world of sin, of suffering, of injustice, of hatred. . ..” This is the world that will be wiped out, demolished, says God and its place will be taken by a completely new reality where only good will exist. Christians know that this new world began at the death and resurrection of Christ. Its full manifestation is still to come. It will be completely fulfilled only at the end of the history. The suffering and persecution that disciples must put up with are to be seen as “birth pangs,” sufferings that bring forth life not death. The second reading warns us of the danger facing the Christians of Thessalonica: people who offer miraculous Ways out of all our problems. The “new world” will be built little by little, with a lot of patience, tolerance, and a lot of suffering and it must begin inside each one of us.
“The sun of righteousness shall rise for you”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Malachi (1 Malachi 4:1-2a)
Behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of host, so that it will leave them neither root not branch. But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.
The word of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 98:5-6.7-9ab, 9bc (R. cf 9cd)
R/. The Lord comes to judge the people with fairness.
Sing psalms to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
raise a shout before the King, the Lord, R
Let the sea and all within it thunder;
the world, and those who dwell in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
and the hills ring out their joy
at the presence of the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth. R/.
He will judge the world with justice,
and the people with fairness. R/.
“If any one will not work, let him not eat”
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12)
Brethren: You know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labour we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command; if any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are walking in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work, now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA Luke 21:28
Alleluia. Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Alleluia.
“By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 21:5- 19)
At that time: As some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, Jesus said, “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” And he said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Before time existed, there was no beginning. There was nothing except God. God was all. Then there was a beginning. There was creation. And it was “very good”. God desired at that moment an intimate relationship with man, the crown of his creation, and with all of creation. But instead man chose and continues to choose infidelity, chaos, violence, evil and hatred. And because of these, creation has become something less than God intended. At the end of time, everything will cease to be: nations, temples; but instead of returning to a dark void, those who are faithfully united to him. The signs we observe of human calamities bids us to testify to all that Jesus teaches us – there is more to life than we see. We must live faithfully now, so that, by our perseverance as faithful disciples of Jesus, we will secure everlasting life. Every day is an opportunity to live our discipleship fully and confidently.