Nov 16, 2013

33rd Sunday: Mind to your own business.

"Not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives." (Lk 21: 19)
Mal 3: 19 - 20a
Thes 3: 7-12
Lk 21: 5-19

Our common human experience, if we take our lives seriously before God, is the tension between the present and the future; between what we are now and what we know we should be. Many of us don’t give much daily thought to the life beyond this one.  For most of us our lives are filled with enough need for problem solving or doing the right thing and hoping that in the end all will be well. Welcome to the human condition!

Yet, this time of our liturgical year and the Gospel this Sunday (Lk 21: 5-19) reminds us that indeed in the end, “. . . not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

They are words of comfort from Jesus but we have to place them in their full context. That is, getting from point A to point B will not always be easy or pleasant. If we remove the significance of the cross from our Christian life, then we are nothing more than an ancient philosophy from some well-intentioned but tragic figure who went about doing good and preaching inspiring words but in the end died a pitiful death.

When Jesus spoke an ominous warning as we hear in the Gospel that, “. . . Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; . . .” Our first reading from the prophet Malachi has no less of a warning: “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch . . . “ In the face of such dire predictions, we could either cry “the sky is falling” like chicken little or we can understand that nothing is new under the sun. What age has not seen such portends of disaster? Such apocalyptic scenarios are the stuff of symbol and sign.

Still, rather than frighten us the words of this Sunday are to bring us comfort: that all will be well because God is on our side.  In fact, he is on everyone’s side since no one has a monopoly on divine protection.  This is the guarantee of salvation. So what are we to do in the face of such “signs?” Maybe it could be said: “mind to your own business.”

Our “business,” is the stuff of our daily walk with the Lord in the here and the now. Maybe our fascination with the signs of power and destruction (the stuff of Hollywood) is more of a distraction than an aid to understanding.  While reading the signs of the time is an important exercise in holy discernment, what signs do we see in our daily lives where the Lord is present to us? Are we unaware of the living Christ who stands with us now in our daily walk?

No doubt, life can be tough at times; there’s no denying that.  While end times images can disturb us our real attention should be to mind our own business in the present moment we live.  The call to daily trust, works of charity, a forgiving heart, a humble spirit of service, participation in our sacramental life of faith, a healthy prayer life, and our loyalty to Christ and his Church is certainly enough to handle for any of us.

Our faith is often tested in the face of present day disasters such as the recent tragedy in the Philippines. Scandals in the Church and the sometimes disappointing behavior of those in public office or Church leadership all bring us to question at times.  Yet, if we live as faithful disciples, all will be well in the end. 

As Christians we really should not fear, though we still do at times.  As Christians, God gives us hope and takes away fear, but we still doubt. As Christians, we hear in our first reading: “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays” but we often lose hope or feel unbalanced. 

Maybe in minding to our own business we need to seek a conversion and live in goodness and justice for others.  As God is with us are we truly with him? Our Eucharist is Christ alive and present to us not in some future moment but in the present. Let us receive this food for the journey with humility.
Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to you;
for it is full and lasting happiness
to serve with constancy
the author of all that is good.

(Roman Missal: Collect for Sunday)