Homily Thirty-Third Sunday of Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
· Mal 3:19-20a;
· Ps 98: 5-9;
· 2 Thess 3:7-12
· Luke 21:5-19
God Comes to Rule the Earth with Justice (Ps 98:9)
The readings of today, including that responsorial Psalm (God comes to rule the earth with justice), offer us a sense of hope and perseverance in our life journeys as Christians and believers. Also prayer, orderliness, simple life style, faith, trusts in God, perseverance in justice and righteousness are true sources and signs of security, for a prosperous future and joy even in the face of persecution and seeming hopelessness. Sometimes each of us do experience moment of emptiness! Scripture offers us hope and lessons!
In today’s first reading, the returnees from exile, the golah, 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 and corrupt officials. They encountered resistance from “the people of the land” those who had not experienced exile and foreigners who had infiltrated the vacuum created by the exiled! The returnees 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 today’s Malachi were called to address hope to the hopeless of the New Jerusalem and heal their wounds injustices, laziness, corruption and idolatries that are still there in our societies today!
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 conditions. 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 nowhere to be fully found in this newly reconstructed Jerusalem Temple areas. Malachi in particular preaches hope and perseverance to the disillusioned members of this divided community, especially to those who trust in the Lord. For such people, “…there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays” (Mal 3:20).
These rays, after many years, would come to a fulfilment in the person of Christ of today’s Gospel, who dies on the Cross in Jerusalem (Luke 21:5-19). Christ's message in today’s Gospel remains vital because he knew, that with his death on the cross, 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 the God’s assistance, and the grace to persevere in moments of trials and persecutions, and the hope of the resurrection!
Each of us in our ways at different times , cultures and nations, may have had our own moments of 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 and divisiveness in politics. 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? Where and to whom do we go? Yes, to Christ the New Temple! Trusting in God enables each of us handle hardships, disappointments and difficulties with a discerning spirit of perseverance, knowing that, Christ, the sun of righteousness is constantly watching and shinning over us.