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33d Sunday: Be Not Afraid! Happy Priest on the Hope of the Second Coming
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During his long pontificate, Pope John Paul II called us to the new evangelization, and he urged us to set our sights on a new springtime of Christianity. He did not tell us to live in caves or on islands, waiting for the end of the world. Even so, the Holy Father was well aware of the clash between the culture of life and the culture of death.The entire mission of the Church directs our gaze toward the Second Coming. In the Catholic Mass we pray: "In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ". Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!
P align=justify>CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake" (Luke 21: 10-12).
The eschatological teachings of Jesus are very clear throughout the Gospels. We pronounce the certainty of eternal life each time we pray together the Profession of Faith: "We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." The particular judgment, Heaven, Purgatory, Hell, the Last Judgment, and the hope of a new Heaven and a new earth are the components of this fundamental teaching of Christianity.
Some day as yet unknown to us, this life will come to an end and God will judge us according to our deeds.
"Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and 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" (Malachi 3: 19).
Without a doubt the trials and tribulations of our present day have caused many to believe that the end of the world is imminent. Even though the troubles facing our Church, our nation and the world have at many times reached apocalyptic proportions, the temptation to interpret these events literally through the Book of Revelation would be very dangerous.
"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son of Man, but only the Father" (Mark 13: 32).
Many people obsessed with a pessimistic view of the events of our day have lost hope. However, our consideration of the Second Coming of Jesus must fill us with joy and hope, not apprehension.The prayer of the early Church should be our own, "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!"
The entire mission of the Church directs our gaze toward the Second Coming. In the Catholic Mass we pray: "In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ".
In this Sunday's second reading, Saint Paul warns the Thessalonians: "If anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat". Many of the Thessalonians had fallen into the error of believing that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent. Since they believed that the eschatological promises of Jesus were about to be fulfilled, they decided simply just to wait, and they stopped working and caring about the real needs of this life.
Throughout the history of Christianity, this error has been repeated numerous times. Nevertheless, the certainty of the Lord's return in glory and the challenges of the current time of trial must instill in us a renewed missionary spirit. It is not permissible for any Christian to retreat because of fear. All of us must become apostles bearing witness to the one who came and will come again. Each of us must be busy in the vineyard. There is much to be done.
On May 19th, 1780 in Hartford, Connecticut, the sky darkened portentously, and some of the members of the State House of Representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand. Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the House, rose and said, "The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought in to the chamber."
There is no doubt that we are living in difficult times. The suffering that has been unleashed upon humanity is overwhelming. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we always keep in mind that history has seen already many such moments of trial and tribulation.
The Venerable John Paul II often repeated the exhortation of the Angel to Mary, "Be Not Afraid!" We need to repeat it to ourselves and to one another regularly. Fear must not control us; we are Christians.
There is a humorous story about two explorers who were on a jungle safari. Suddenly a ferocious lion jumped in front of them. "Keep calm" the first explorer whispered. "Remember what we read in that book on wild animals? If you stand perfectly still and look the lion in the eye, he will turn and run." "Sure," replied his companion. "You've read the book, and I've read the book. But, has the lion read the book?"
I am not minimizing the magnitude of the challenges that confront us. Nevertheless, I have learned that if we truly wish to experience the joy that the virtue of hope provides, we must abandon ourselves with total confidence to the loving hands of God our Father who knows all things. It is not healthy to be obsessed with watching the news at every moment, as if a great chastisement were close at hand.
In this Sunday's gospel passage, Jesus reminds us to trust in him.
"Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives" (Luke 21: 14-19).
During his long pontificate, Pope John Paul II called us to the new evangelization, and he urged us set our sights on a new springtime of Christianity. He did not tell us to live in caves or on islands, waiting for the end of the world. Even so, the Holy Father was well aware of the clash between the culture of life and the culture of death.
Our consideration of the Second Coming of Jesus should fill us with hope and should instill in us an even greater urgency to be committed apostles of Jesus Christ.
Father James Farfaglia, the Happy Priest, is the pastor of Saint Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. Father has a hard hitting blog called Illegitimi non carborundum. He has also published a book called Man to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men about Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life. You can contact Father at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can click here for the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.
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