Thirty-third Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thirty-third Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 33 OTC

 

Readings: Mal 3:19-20a (4:1-2a); 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19.

 

1/ Reading I: RSV Malachi 4:1 "For 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 hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.”

 

2/ Reading II: RSV 2 Thessalonians 3:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8 we did not eat any one's bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. 9 It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 21:5 And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 "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." 7 And they asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" 8 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. 9 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." 10 Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 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. 13 This will be a time for you to bear testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; 17 you will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.”



I. THEME: Living this life properly is the way to prepare for the next life. 

 

            The life of the faithful can be compared as taking the exams. To the students who don’t prepare or lack of preparation, they shall be very anxious because it is the time to display their laziness, reveling, and absences from classes. To the students who studied hard, they long for it to come so they can show their knowledge and understanding, especially to attain the success they desire. The faithful need to avoid of the two extremes either worrying only about the next life or caring only about the enjoyments of this life. A proper way is to live this life properly to prepare for the next life. They shall never attain the next life if they don’t begin to prepare for it from this life.

            Today readings concentrate on the fact that people must live this present life properly while shouldn’t forget to prepare for the next life. In the first reading, the prophet Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, warned the fates of those who don’t prepare, they shall be burned as stubble in a burning stove; but to those who prepared, they shall see the righteous sun rising up with its healing rays. In the second reading, St. Paul advised the Thessalonians to imitate him by working with all strength to build up themselves, their family and community; not to be lazy, anxious and spreading rumors about Christ’s second coming. In the Gospel, Jesus foretold about some strange signs shall happen in the heaven and on earth before the Last Day; but to those who always prepare and firmly believe, they don’t need to be worried because they shall inherit salvation which they are always expecting.

II. ANALYSIS

1/ Reading I: All the arrogant and all evildoers will be as stubble in a stove on that day.

            The Jews, from the time of the prophets, always think they are living between two ages: A terrible age, impossible to be healed and deserved to be destroyed and a glorious age with the dominion by the Jews. Between these two ages, there shall be the day of the Messiah’s coming. On this day, all terrible things shall happen in heaven and on earth, the earth shall be destroyed and sinners shall be wiped out (Cf. Isa 13:9, Joel 2:1-2, Amo 5:18-20, Zep 1:14-18). The stars and the solar system shall no longer give their light, the earth shall be shaken and God’s anger shall be upon people (Isa 13:10-13, Joel 2:30-31). This might be the predictions for Christ’s second coming, not his first coming. The second coming shall be the Judgment Day to show God’s justice.

            Malachi also followed this tradition. He described the day of the Messiah’s coming shall show God’s power and justice.

            (1) This day shall be a terrible day for the wicked and sinners: “For 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 hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”

            (2) This day shall be the healing day for the good: “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.”

2/ Reading II: With toil and labor we worked night and day so that we might not burden any of you.

            When waiting for Christ’s second coming, what do the faithful need to do? Jesus teaches his disciples they must be ready and incessantly pray. St. Paul gave the Thessalonians a sketch of three different kinds of persons and advised them to imitate him.

            (1) Those who work extra hard: Paul is the example of this type. He both preached the gospel and worked for his living by making tents. Even though he could live by the faithful’s assistance because he is the preacher; but he wanted to work so he could set an example for them. He said in today passage, “For you yourselves 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 labor 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.”

            (2) Those who work for their living: People must work in order to have food for them and their family. They must also support the preachers who work for God.

            (3) Those who don’t work, but also interfere with others’ business: Some people at Paul’s time made an excuse for their laziness--Christ’s second coming is at hand. When someone is idle all day, he shall interfere with others’ life by talking bad things about them. So, Paul gave these people his strict warning, “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 living 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.”

 

3/ Gospel: “By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

            Three important things we can draw out from the Gospel:

 

3.1/ The need to differentiate between the temporal and the lasting things: All worldly glories are only temporal, even the splendor of the Jerusalem temple. If a pilgrim stands on Mt. Olive and looks down the city of Jerusalem, he could see the temple and its splendid glory. Today, even though the temple is no longer there, but its splendor still remains through the giant rocks and the Wailing Wall. In Jesus’ time, the temple is the Israelites’ pride; so, it isn’t strange when Jesus’ disciples admired the temple and talked about its precious stones and offerings; but Jesus told them, “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.”

            Jesus’ forewarning of the Jerusalem temple was fulfilled about thirty years after his death, when the Roman armies completely destroyed it in 70 A.D. Before the destruction, the Roman armies laid siege Jerusalem for a while. People in the city had no food so they ate human meat to survive; many were so hungry that they must chew their shoes. The Roman armies totally destroyed the temple as Jesus said, “there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Josephus, the historian, estimated about 1.1 million people died in this event.

            This must be an important lesson to us that we must build a spiritual temple in our soul than waste our time, money and effort to build giant and glorious churches. If not, they shall also be destroyed or sold when there are no longer enough the believers to use them.

3.2/ Jesus gave some signs about the Last Day: People wanted to know when what Jesus said shall happen, so they asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” Jesus advised them to be prepared always and to pay attention to the suddenness of this day. He never told them when it shall happen, but gave them two warning signs:

            (1) There shall be false prophets and wrong guessers.

            - Those who identify themselves as the prophets sent by God: From Jesus’ time until now, many people called themselves as such: Mohamed of the Islam; Smith of the Mormon, etc.

            - Those who predict about the Last Day: In every age, there are people who wrongly predicted about this day, especially Nostradamus. In our time, many people predicted the first day of the year 2000 shall be it, and they were ready for this day to come; but we are going to the year of 2014 and this day isn’t going to happen. Jesus warned his followers, “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.”

            (2) There shall be signs which appear in the world.

            - There shall be wars and tumults: Jesus said, “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.” Wars happen everywhere and in every generation. This only ascertains people are in the midst of the two ages as the Israelites believe; we can’t base on war to predict the second coming.

            - There shall be great earthquakes, pestilences and famine: Great earthquakes still happen everywhere and in every generation. In our time, the greatest one happened at Sichuan, China, in 2008; more than seventy thousand people were died in this earthquake. Besides, all the plagues as tsunami, flood, bird or cow flu outbreak, and famine often happen and cause many damages for people on earth. So, we can’t base on these things to predict the second coming.

            - There shall be terrible phenomena and great signs appearing in heaven: This might be a clear indication than anything because from the time Jesus ascended to heaven until now, people never see the great signs from heaven as the prophets predicted, such as: the sun, the moon and the stars on the solar system shall no longer shine. When all these signs happen, the Last Day shall come.

           

3.3/ There shall be opportunities for us to witness for Christ.

            (1) Must suffer to witness for Christ: Jesus forewarned his disciples about the sufferings which are about to happen to them, “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.” Jesus clearly indicated that sufferings are opportunities for his disciples to be witnesses for him; refusing to suffer is losing an opportunity to witness for God.

            (2) Must not worry how to defend ourselves: The disciples don’t fight alone, Jesus shall fight with them. He said, “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.” When people know there is a power that is stronger than the enemy’s power helps them, they shall not be afraid anymore and be confident in fighting. St. Paul had this experience when he proclaimed, “I live, but no longer I; it is Christ who lives in me.”

            (3) We are guaranteed to be victorious: There is no worldly power that can overcome God’s power. The worldly powers have only temporal effects, as long as God permits them to happen; but once God withdraws them, no worldly power can oppose Him. Jesus guarantees this with his disciples; though they have to fight, “but not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

 

            - We shouldn’t be surprised about what shall happen in the future because the Old Testament’s prophets, Christ himself and the New Testament’s evangelists clearly described them.

            - The best way to prepare for Christ’s second coming is to be always prepared, to pray and to diligently fulfill our duties.

            - We should open our mind to learn experience of those who had gone before us and to live their advice: Let live this life as it is going to pass and treasure for ourselves the eternal values.