34th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Rev 14:14-19
I, John, looked and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.” So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven who also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel came from the altar, who was in charge of the fire, and cried out in a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth’s vines, for its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth’s vintage. He threw it into the great wine press of God’s fury.
Gospel: Lk 21:5-11
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “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.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
IN CHRIST WE STAND: In regard to history, we see the Jerusalem temple built and destroyed different times. When Jesus said that there would not be left a stone upon another stone, he would have referred to the past history as well as the future course of the temple. In the present era we come across the Churches becoming places of tourism, bars and entertainment. Jesus also spoke of the wars and natural calamities. The World faces environmental, moral, political and spiritual calamities. In the personal life too, we face the death of loved ones, the breakdown of relationship, illness etc. All such tragedies indicate that our life on earth is non-permanent and passing. In the face of such global, ecclesial and personal tragedies, Jesus encourages not to be terrified but to do our part in restoring the hope and the health of the planet and the people.
Prayer: We shall pray that we may have faith to surrender our life to God and to play our roles for the well-being of the world.
KEEP GUARD: The connection between the readings of today is the unpleasant truth told by the two figures: Daniel in the first reading and Jesus in the Gospel. Each of them uses fortitude to express God’s message. Jesus demands the gathering to guard themselves against being deceived by false prophets. He clearly shows us that there are signs for the end times. In our times many false prophets have come as false pastors, who have misled their followers. Other false prophets are in form of business men who have corrupted us with the spirit of consumerism. These compete in producing different products which have negative effects on human health.Regardless of the challenges we face, we are called to be prayerful and watchful in all we do.
PRAYER: Lord, grant me the gift of fortitude so as to communicate the truth as a Christian.
DEFEATING ATTRACTIONS: Daniel interprets the dream and lets the king prepare for the future. Daniel does not take pride over his wisdom, instead asserts that it is the God who revealed it to him. Vendors today are on the scene veiled as God’s anointed with authority and learning. A reputed sage gave a long discourse on God and mammon. As he finished his fascinating talk, he announced: “There are beautiful images available for each to take home”. But there are two types of images: of Jesus and Lucifer. One can imagine what image a devout religious group will pick. As people feverishly ran for the statues and walked out of the hall another announcement came. The statues of Jesus, is made of wood, but that of Lucifer is made of 22 carat gold. One could see the whole gathering rushing back for the golden images. Christian faith is an invitation to a steadfast belief in God. Hold fast to God under whose reign you are safe in spite of the dreadful portents and dangerous signs. Come alive with a lively, sound faith.
SEE THAT YOU ARE NOT DECEIVED: Often, we live our lives as if the present situations will be for ever and ever without end, Amen! In good and in bad situations; when we are successful and flourishing, we falsely believe that these conditions will endure forever. Similarly, when bad things happen to us, we think that there will be no respite. In the gospel today, Jesus reminds us that things are not here forever. As we approach the end of the liturgical year, this is an important message for us: everything comes to an end, except…, only God is permanent. So, the words of Teresa of Avila are very meaningful here: “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, all things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”