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As the liturgical season slowly draws to a close suggesting an end- of- times religious tone, we are reminded once again not to panic but stay calm despite the impending dangers of divisions, wars and revolutions and endless threats to peace and security. We are told that disasters such as earthquakes, plagues and famines do happen, extremely damaging and catch us by surprise and yet, it’s not the end.

There will be tomorrow and will arrive sooner than expected. Jesus says, “when you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not be immediately the end. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues from place to place and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky” (Lk. 21:9-11). Some things remain, others passing.

Nonetheless, we’re worried. We got questions. If natural calamities and disasters, including violence and shootings are not yet signs of the end-times, then what, when and will there be spectacular signs that precede it? What will happen when Christ finally comes to pass final judgment? Self-proclaimed prophets predicted the exact date and time of the end of the world for ages but that day never arrived. At least, not yet. We are heavily preoccupied with the affairs of ordinary life that any talk of the last things doesn’t get much attention. Jesus tells his followers to be extremely cautious of the false prophets who sound impeccable in the name of God, as though they were the ones who made the created universe and have everything in their fingertips. At this time of the year, the environment surrounding us that is, the falling of the leaves suggests that nature will go through a process of death. Doom and gloom movies come out in theatres in November as well. What is at stake is our giving testimony, our sense of witness to the world. There’s a famous saying, modern people don’t listen to teachers but if they do, it’s because they become credible witnesses first.  

What do we do then for the time being? How do we give witness? In these uncertain and difficult times, Paul and his companions have a lot to say by strongly urging us to imitate and look up to them as models for they “labored in toil and drudgery, night and day, we worked, so as not to burden any of you” (2 Thess. 3:8). Paul sounded frustrated by the destructive lifestyles of some members in the community. It appeared evil, wicked and crooked people ran the show. Possibly, new members were confused about the sense of mission and witness of Christ’s followers. Some have given up their faith, lost hope and lacked zeal. They were disillusioned. Their hopes dashed and expectations failed. They felt that everything they worked for ended up in dismal failure, no less a losing battle. No wonder Paul’s message presents a stern warning to those who turned complacent in faith and led immoral, mediocre and chaotic lives which negatively affected others who took their faith seriously. It is directed to those whose moral standards have eroded and have cared nothing at all about faith. We are all in the same boat and heading the same direction. No one must be left behind. And so, he tells the morally lax to work on their own spiritual growth and religious well-being instead of minding others' business. This practice leads them to the day of the Lord. Malachi in the first reading clearly points out that “the day of the Lord will separate the proud evildoers from those who fear God’s name and then, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” The day of the Lord will be a day of judgment and punishment.

Jesus constantly reminds us that, “you will be hated by all because of my name but not a hair on your head will be lost. By your perseverance you will secure your lives” (Lk 21:17-19). Living the gospel is counter-cultural. It doesn’t simply communicate human values that make us feel good about ourselves. It’s other-worldly, divine in origin and supernatural in nature. None except Jesus of Nazareth exemplified, fulfilled and lived up to the promises albeit in a heroic, violent and scandalous death on the cross. Righteous people should lead the world.

Our parish communities should never stop in sharing the good news. Jesus keeps us going. We don’t evangelize by simply posting an ad, a video in social media, flyers for an event or studying the church’s documents although that helps a lot. Our words and actions are our most powerful tool. We make disciples by bringing people to God and it happens always in the context of the church, in a gathered community as the locus of this sacred encounter. Amen. 



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