Malachi 3:19-20

Psalms 98:5-9

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12

Luke 21:5-19

Our first reading from the book of the Prophet Malachi seems timely, and could just have easily been written today. In spite of how ominous it appears, there are moments when the age we are living in can seem rather cataclysmic. The feelings of September 11, 2001, have really never left us. Taking their place is a seemingly endless array of cataclysmic-like events: collapsing buildings (twin towers, surf side), numerous hurricanes, changes in our climate, wars and insurrections (too numerous to enumerate, and mentioned in our gospel), out of control fires burning thousands of homes and acres of land, political divisions that erode the very democracy which is at the heart of our nation’s bragging rights, and the personal losses so many have endured, either through destruction or through the death of loved ones – all of this could be what the last of the Old Testament’s prophets, Malachi, is speaking of. With this sampling in mind, read what Malachi has to say, opening today’s liturgy: “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all the evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the Lord of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”

Now the prophets of the Old Testament were not about predicting the future, and no matter how right on target they may seem to be, given Israel’s history, they are more about giving comfort and calling people to do what is right and just. As stated in an earlier homily, the close of the liturgical year focuses on the end times, when Jesus will return in glory, drawing all women and men to Himself. Also, especially in this month of November, we focus not only on the death of our loved ones, but we also focus on our own deaths, that moment when time on this earth runs out for us, and we are called to give an accounting of our lives.

There is always some hindsight at play in the inspired gospels, for they were composed some 30-50 years after the events they narrate. When Jesus uses the destruction of the Temple to make a point with His followers, the author of the gospel, in this case Luke, has likely already experienced that destruction. Indeed, like our list above, the “wars and insurrections,” the “powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues,” and the persecutions of some of their Christian brethren, have already happened. Like the prophets of old, however, Jesus is not meant to predict the future, He is meant to call people back to proper worship, to doing what is right and just, to living as children of God. In the face of all things, those who put their faith in Jesus will be saved by their perseverance – by doing what is right and just, by proclaiming God’s good news.

The importance of this is clearly seen in our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. Thessalonians are the oldest two books in the New Testament, and they describe a time when followers of Jesus were taking Jesus’ words about His second coming far too literally. So soon did they expect to see Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven, that they decided not to work. The promise of Jesus’ second coming was like winning the lottery – the first thing you do is quit your job. Paul’s job was to get the people to go back to work: “if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” They needed to stop being “busy-bodies,” and model their behavior on that of Paul.

The future is luckily hidden from our eyes, yet there is little doubt that for the time we occupy this life, we will face an array of events, some of them personally cataclysmic. We need to recall that it is not things of this world in which we put our trust. Our trust is in a loving God, and no catastrophe is beyond the reach of God’s “healing sun of justice.” Finding our way through death and life, suffering and bliss, war and peace, anger and acceptance, love and hate, violence and calm, while still holding firm to the providential and unconditional love of God is paramount. Acts of violence and the brokenness of life can easily harden us and make us bitter. We have to resist this temptation and bring ourselves back to love. We must keep ourselves focused on what really matters and not get too dependent upon the material, tangible, and superficial. It is the only way we will find God and become who we are meant to be. A reflection of God’s love.


  1. beautifully said – thank you———– lots to think about—
    we are meant to be reflections of God’s love….finding our way through life and still remaining faithful—knowing God loves us .

    mary jo


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