Homily 33rd Sunday of Year C: Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Mal 3:19-20a; Ps 98: 5-9; 2 Thess 3:7-12 and Luke 21:5-19
Perseverance In Justice
The readings of today, offer us hope and perseverance. Prayer, orderliness, simple life style, trusts in God and practice of justice and righteousness are sources of security, a prosperous future, and joy in the face of persecution and hopelessness.
The returnee from exile- the Israelite community optimistically sought for these sources of security in the New Jerusalem they had return to rebuild. But what they saw was still a deeply divided community. They saw a community plagued with rift, social injustice and disorderliness. Power politics, despair and hopeless had also taken root. Many of the post-exilic prophets Haggai, Zechariah, Trito-Isaiah (56–66) and Malachi have all addressed these.
Some of these prophets were even critical of the Temple and the priests since there was absence of proper worship that takes cognizance of people’s daily living. There were also lingering problems that Ezra- Nehemiah had face. The problem of who should be included in the New Jerusalem: foreigners, everyone or a selected few or what the new community should look like? Tithes and offerings were abused while justice and righteousness were no where to be found in this newly reconstructed Jerusalem Temple.
Malachi in particular preaches hope and perseverance to disillusioned members of this divided community especially those who trust in the Lord. He says, “For those who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays” (Mal 3:20).
For the followers of Christ who face similar challenges at every time and place, and culture, their security should never have to be placed any longer in physical Temple but in Christ Jesus who is the New Temple, because as was the case in history a time came when the physical Temple was no longer there (Luke 21:5-6).
Christ's message in today’s Gospel remains important because since he would be gone. His disciples and many of us would face persecutions, hardships, trials, divisions, confusions, uncertainties, temptations and contradictions, as it was in the community of Prophet Malachi. But just as Malachi, God's messenger assured Israel of the help of the sun of justice, the Lukan Jesus assures his followers of God’s assistance with the spirit of perseverance in moments of such trials and persecutions.
Each of us in our ways at different times may have had our own moments of these trials, fears, temptation, despair, frustration, tragedy, loss of our loved ones, hurricane tsunami, sandy, typhoon, violent cause by war, terrorism and inordinate use of guns. Many have also experienced poverty, hunger, illnesses, racism, ignorance, lack of proper education and functional or stable government, discrimination, joblessness and hopelessness.
In such moments what do we do? To whom do we go; to the physical temple which is never permanent or to Christ the permanent Temple? Paul gives us a soothing suggestion in the Second Reading. He presents himself as a model to imitate (2 Thess3:7-12). Hard work, simplicity of life, prayer, pursuit of justice and righteous acts, hope, trust in God will enable each of us handle hardship and difficult situations with a discerning spirit of perseverance, knowing that, Christ, the sun of righteousness is constantly watching and shinning over us.