Thirty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Lk 21: 20-28.
Jesus said to his disciples: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it, and let those in the countryside not enter the city, for these days are the time of punishment when all the Scriptures are fulfilled. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
CHRISTIAN, BEWARE: The background for the discourse in the gospel is the death of Christ. The destruction of Jerusalem is part of the punishment delivered by God for the death of Christ. This devastation is a symbol of the end of the world and in a sense, a coming of Christ in power and judgment. The principle idea behind these words of exhortation may be described as the place of a Christian in a changing world. Jesus had made it abundantly clear to his disciples that earth-shaking events were in store for all mankind; but he wanted his people to know that they have a secure place in his loving care. If the child of God will keep himself from the sinful things, the worries of the world and keep himself to prayer, he will find that the Lord will supply all his needs.
PRAYER: Lord, give me the grace to be watchful in prayer.
WATCH OUT AND STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME: Having come out of the test by fire unscathed, Daniel is acclaimed all around Persian. The royal decree proclaimed all must tremble and fear before ‘God of Daniel ’. Because he conducted honorably and blamelessly, even God is identified in Daniel’s name. Arctic Tern is a medium sized bird of immense capacity. Studies have showed it makes an annual round trip of nineteen thousand kilometers. It comes across two summers in one year, having to fly from northern breeding ground to the Antarctic coast. This circumpolar travel of the bird is nothing unusual in its life story. It carries on like this for thirty plus years with no amount disbelief or self- doubt. An eye opener to the Christian believer! Indescribable sufferings and pains is the order of the day. The scale and depth of it no one can measure. A rooted Christian must go on unperturbed. But our faith tells us that all that happens is with a purpose. A believer must assure himself that Jesus is the only aim to which the world is heading. God is glorified by such energetic and consistent witness.
STAND ERECT AND RAISE YOUR HEADS: Psychologists say human brain is “hardwired” for negativity. That is, our brain is programmed to pick up and remember negative language, negative experiences, and situations that threaten us. This is part of our survival instinct in order to avoid danger. Even when we read the Word of God, we are very quick to notice negative tone and language, rather than the promise of hope. Continuing in the tone of yesterday’s gospel text, today’s gospel continues with the description of the end of times. However, what is important to notice is also the promise of hope. The Word of God today invites us to: “Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” The extraordinary signs that Jesus describes sound threatening, but they could be interpreted symbolically, signifying the impermanence of things around us. In this situation, we are expected to stand up with a sense of hope looking forward toward our redemption.