33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Persevere in Hope

November 13, 2022

What do you think?  Will the world as we know end/cease to exist?  There was that kind of thinking at the end of the first century, just when the Jesus movement and its hope in the Resurrection to new life were beginning to take off in the Mediterranean world of ancient Europe.

That the world would end and a new world would begin was an ancient hope kept alive by Jewish faith and culture.  It was the buzz at the ending of the first century and the early Christians were anticipating The End, with eagerness, with hope and with fear.

In today’s gospel, Jesus makes some very clear observations:

  • What you see and what impresses you today will disappear – even perhaps a St. Peter’s Basilica, a U.S. Capitol, impressive buildings and places.
  • New messiahs and those claiming mystical powers and claiming to be angels from God will arise and disappear; do not be deceived.
  • Wars will continue.  Nations will point nuclear weapons at each other.  Perhaps some mad woman or man will press the button and create a nuclear explosion.  Jesus says that doesn’t mean the end.
  • And then, powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues, and other awesome sights and mighty signs…
  • And persecutions

(Frankly, I am hoping to leave this planet and go to heaven and paradise before all this happens)

Jesus also says precisely, that everything is falling apart so that you and I will give testimony.  It is time for us to stand up, be clear about the direction of life and to hold onto the presence of God all around us.  We are to make something powerfully good out of our lives and to save our world from personal destruction and the death of hope.

“You may be hated because of my name,” Jesus shares, “but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.  By your perseverance, you will secure your lives,” Jesus promises.  What a claim!

Our first testimony is our living clearly the gospel of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the personal spirit of Jesus, not only at Christmas or Easter or whenever we are so inspired.  “By your perseverance,” Jesus says.  That means all the time.  Our sense of security will also grow as we grow into who and what we are to be.

St. Paul had the audacity to write: “You know how one must imitate us.”  Really?  He says that he wanted to present himself as model for us to follow.  Therefore, we need to read more of what he wrote and to take it into our hearts.  What we need to do is more than to pass information around.  We ourselves must become a model for others.  St. Paul was a critic of people who conducted themselves in a disorderly way, he writes in today’s passage and a particular critic of busybodies.  His last piece of advice to the Thessalonians was to work quietly in the spirit of Jesus and to eat their own food – to be self-reliant and empowered by Jesus.

“By your perseverance, you will secure your lives,” Jesus says.  Giving up or giving in is not a suggested option.  We keep working at becoming the next Jesus!  That is the expectation and recommendation that he left us.

Our personal security about today or tomorrow or our eternal future does not come for the wishing of it or hoping beyond all hope.  It comes from the “doing of it” – working quietly, keeping our faith and trust in Jesus as his disciples, and being a model witness speaking up and sharing our lives as Jesus did!

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