Thursday, November 14, 2013

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives"

The Readings for Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - direct our attention to the End of the World, otherwise known as the Last Things, or the Day of the Lord. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Two weeks from now the season of Advent will begin. Since Advent is about the two comings of Christ, in Bethlehem and at the end of time, the readings this week and next week, the Solemnity of Christ the King, actually prepare for Advent by speaking about the Second Coming and the end of the world.

The World Will Come to an End

We do not know when the end of the world will take place, Christ does not tell us. But, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino points out, everyone wants to know when. No one wants to hear what Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew 24:36: "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." And what Jesus does tell us very clearly in this text today, Fr. Alex McAllister explains, is not to listen to those who say the end is nigh.

Apocalyptic speculation is clearly a waste of valuable time and energy. And while Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio reminds us that it is futile to try to figure it out, the Catholic Church certainly does not ignore the fact that the world will come to an end and that Christ will come again in judgment on the Last Day. Instead of pondering about exactly when He is coming again, Fr. Charles Irvin tells us that our Church asks us to place our ordinary living in the context of the fact that He will come again. The important thing is to recognize the certainty of His coming again and not let our thoughts get all caught up and diverted by calculating exactly when He is coming again.

And when "end of days" take center stage, it can't be helped that the Protestant concept of rapture frequently pops into the mix. Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M., discusses the Catholic teaching on Rapture. Will Catholics be raptured? No, of course not, he said. But then neither will anyone else.

Perseverance & Hope

When was the last time that you or I thought about the final coming of Christ? The reality is that this could happen at any time. The lesson, for all of us, is that we need to be prepared at all times. We must have endurance. And this, Father Cusick explains, is an active - rather than a passive - virtue for the Christian. Endurance is built up against temptation to sin and apathy through a life of regular prayer.

And we must have Hope. But this virtue of Hope, Fr. Phil Bloom clarifies, differs greatly from that dreamy emotion we're all familiar with. While the emotion of hope is centered in the body, the virtue of hope is centered in the will. The virtue of hope enables one to persevere until the end, to dedicate all to God. The lesson of all of this, therefore, is to persevere in trusting our God, His love and His presence. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB tells us that only by this perseverance shall we secure our lives in the Kingdom.

We Don’t Have to Wait Until Death

It is important to note that from a biblical perspective, the end of one world is not such a tragic event since it also announces the beginning of a new one, our eternal lives with God. A sorrowful Goodbye must sometimes be accepted before there can be a joyous Hello!

Nobody ever changed his or her life tomorrow. We have a lot of fun reading about people who predicted that the world was about to end. But in a way they were all right, explains Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. The world does end – every moment. In our lives there are little worlds ending all the time--the end of childhood, of education, of employment, of strength, etc. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. points out that it is the courage, generosity and trust with which we deal with these endings that will prepare us for the final ending.

Viewing History in the Larger Context of God

Often we read the signs of the times in the disasters we face as a people. But, Fr. Ron Rolheiser points out, God didn’t cause September 11. God didn’t send AIDS as a punishment for sin. And God doesn’t single out some people to win lotteries, while causing sickness and tragedy for others. A conspiracy of accidents does that. But God speaks to us through all of those accidents, good and bad. And one of the most important tasks of faith is to search within that conspiracy of accidents to try to find there God’s finger and God’s voice.

The important thing to keep in mind is that before the end there is to be a time of witnessing. Father Thomas Rosica, CSB tells us that the disciples of Jesus are not exempt from suffering. The early martyrs experienced the same pain, but ultimately accepted their divinely chosen path. College senior David Haughney reflects that this week Jesus challenges you and me to do the same. To show our love for him, we must accept. We must let go, and let God.

Advent is coming very soon. The Church will be preparing to see tender love shown forth in a child. Fr. John Foley, S. J. tells us that in pre-Advent (now), we have to take in God’s grandeur in its awesome and fear-invoking stage so we will be humble enough to prepare ourselves for the baby.

Here's our Burning Question this week: Should Catholics join non-Catholic Bible Studies? This question is generating a lively discussion. Come and check out the discussion board.

We Honor Our Veterans & We Remember "Sparky"

Veteran’s Day was this oast week. But it's not too late to think of the men and women who march in the VFW parades. We think of their grandfathers, the gregarious World War II sailors, eager to share sea stories, and their uncles, stolid Vietnam-era airmen reticent to talk about the war. We think of the aunt who served in the Persian Gulf and the neighbor’s son who recently shipped off to Afghanistan. These are our country's war veterans. Joe Carter, and the rest of our grateful country salutes them. A veteran himself, he offers this moving personal reflection: What a Veteran Knows.

Another eventful world in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Should Catholics Join Non-Catholic Bible Studies?
FEATURED BLOG: What a Veteran Knows

PASTORAL HISPANA: Como explica Jesus el fin del Mundo?

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