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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - 11-18-07 Scripture Readings First: Malachi 3:19-20a Second: 2 Thessalonians

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - 11-18-07

Scripture Readings First: Malachi 3:19-20a Second: 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12. Gospel: Luke 21:5-19.

Prepared by: Fr. Stephen Dominic Hayes, OP

1. Subject Matter

First Reading: The verse immediately preceding this reading points to God's distinction between the good and the wicked; the latter's punishment is their utter destruction like that of a burned over field of stubble.

Second reading: Paul enjoins his audience to imitate the apostles' lives as the rule of their own. He emphasizes in particular the need to faithfully persevere in daily work and earning one' s living. The approach of the Last Days discussed in chapter 2 of this letter does not warrant or excuse Christians' ignoring the duties of the present moment of life and grace.

Gospel: The question concerning the sign of the Last Days is prompted by Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. Jesus joins the imminent destruction of the Temple and the concomitant destruction of the fabric of first century Jewish society with the eschatological return of the Messiah in the last days while carefully distinguishing them as two separate moments in salvation history. Jesus' appearance at the Temple in fulfillment of Malachai's prophecy is connected by the Lord to the end times in the renewal of all things by the power of God. As Jesus has said elsewhere in Luke, the reign of God is breaking into history now in the person of Jesus Christ, and is in fact inaugurating the work of the Last Days in the present moment. Although the perfection of this work remains an eschatological reality, the judgment of God on the world's sin, on the futility of the lives of nations and the clash of empires and cultures, is accompanied by the manifestation of the truth and holiness of God, particularly in the lives and testimony under persecution of his Saints.

Jesus promises that although some of his persecuted faithful "will be put to death", that at the same time, "not a hair on your head will be destroyed." Those who remain faithful to him in the difficulties and trials of this life, will receive an everlasting reward in the Last Days' perfection and fulfillment. Christ's coming to the Temple in today's Gospel presages and prophesies his second coming at the end of time.

2.

Exegetical Notes

The gospel for this Sunday has evoked much discussion from the commentators concerning Luke's dependence on Mark with regard to this material. Manson and Taylor suggests a proto- Luke to explain the deficiencies of Luke's style at verse 12, while Conzelman suggests that Luke's theological preoccupations provide the explanation. In contrast to Mark, Luke insists that Christians do not possess a specific and defined day for the appearance of the last things; "the time of the nations" is yet to be fulfilled. Luke's discussion of the parousia may be found in Chapter 17: 20-37, where, in opposition to Mark and Matthew, he separates the fall of the temple and the present tribulations of the community from the eschatological trials of the end time. JBC

44:143.

In spite of Luke's intentional separation of the moments of the Temple's destruction and the end of time, the passage nevertheless treats the first as a sign presaging the second. Mark presents this discourse (13:1-4) as given privately by Jesus on the Mount of Olives to his disciples; Luke presents this has given in the Temple in the last days before his arrest. The sudden appearance of the Messiah at the Temple is a sign of the end according to the prophet Malachi (3:1-5). That sign is fulfilled in Jesus entry into the Temple and its cleansing; yet the eschatological justice in which God through his judge puts all things right and gives the wicked their due, is not yet.

In Mark's gospel, the Lord's use of apocalyptic language appears precisely in his appearance as a suffering, persecuted prisoner before those who would be his judges; he is nevertheless revealed as the Holy Judge of the end time as precisely in those circumstances. In Luke, this role of Christ is recapitulated by those Christians who, like Christ, shall through the ages be persecuted, judged, and even put to death for the truth which Jesus has come to give. Perseverance and patience in the midst of tribulation is how Christ's faithful shall win through. Though they lose their lives, "not a hair of your head" shall be harmed; Christ's martyrs look forward to eschatological and complete vindication in the resurrection from the dead, at the time of the Son of Man's Second Coming.

3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 675: Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will

shape the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the " Mystery of Iniquity" in the form of all religious deception offering men and apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which men glorifies himself in place of God and on his Messiah come in the flesh.

CCC

1002 :Christ will raise us up "at the last day"; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we

have

already risen with Christ. Four, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on

earth

a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ (cf. Col.2 12, 3:1).

 

CCC

1040:

The last judgment will come when Christ returns in glory

We shall know the

ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and

understand the marvelous place by which His Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God's Justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God's love is stronger than death.

CCC

1041: The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion about God is still giving

them

" the acceptable time,

the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2). It inspires a holy fear of

God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the "blessed hope" of the Lord's return, when he will come "to be glorified in his Saints, and to be marveled at in all

who have believed."

4. Patristic Commentary and Other Authorities

St. Ambrose of Milan: It was spoken then of the temple made with hands, that it should be overthrown. For there is nothing made with hands, which age does not impair, or violence throw down, or fire burn. Yet there is also another temple, that is, the synagogue, whose ancient

building falls to pieces as the Church rises. There is also a temple in everyone, which falls when

Faith is lacking, and above all when anyone falsely shields himself under the name of Christ, so

that he may rebel against his inward inclinations.

St. Cyril of Alexandria: Now his disciples did not at all perceive the force of his words, but supposed they were spoken of the end of the world. Therefore, they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? And what sign, etc.

Theophylact: Now some have wished to place the fulfillment of these things, not only at the

future consummation of all things, but at the time also of the taking of Jerusalem. For when the Author of peace was killed, then justly arose among the Jews wars and sedition. But from wars proceed pestilence and famine, the former indeed produced by the air infected with dead bodies, the latter through the lands remaining uncultivated. Josephus also relates the most intolerable distresses to have occurred from famine; and at the time of Claudius Cesar there was a severe famine, as we read in the Acts, and many terrible events happened, foreboding, as Josephus

says, the destruction of Jerusalem.

The Venerable Bede: the apostles are also exhorted not to be alarmed by these foreigners, are to desert Jerusalem and Judea. But the kingdom against kingdom, and the pestilence of those whose word creeps as a cancer, and the famine of hearing the Word of God, and the shaking of the whole earth, and the separation from the true Faith, be explained also in the heretics, who contending with one another bring victory to the Church.

St. Gregory the Great: But because of the hard things foretold concerning the affliction of

death, there immediately follows a consolation, considering the joy of the resurrection, when it is

said, but there shall not a hair of your head perish. As though he said to the martyrs, why fear

ye for the perishing of that which when cut, pains, when that can not perish in you, which when

cut gives no pain? (Hom. 35 in Evang.)

St. Gregory the Great: he who preserves patients in adversity, is thereby rendered proof against all affliction, and so by conquering himself, he gains the government of himself: as it follows, in patience ye shall possess your souls. For what is it to possess your souls, but to the perfectly in all things. And, sitting as it were up on the Senate over two to hold them subjection every motion of your mind (Moralia 5. C. 16.)

St. Gregory the Great: By patience than we possess ourselves, because when we are said to govern ourselves, we begin to possess that very thing which we are. But for this reason, the possession of the soul is laid in the virtue of patience, because patience is the root and guardian of all virtues. Now patience is to endure calmly the evils which are inflicted by others, and also to have no feeling of indignation against him who inflicts them.

Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris. "The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name called millenarianism, especially the 'intrinsically perverse' political form of a secular messianism." See also Gaudium et Spes 20-21.

5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars

St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr: The Acts of the Apostles recounts the story of Saint Stephen’s martyrdom. Stephen recapitulated in a very specific way the shape of Christ's own death and the great grace which flowed from it for the conversion of sinners. Brought before the Sanhedrin for renewing Christ's preaching about the destruction of the Temple, Stephen opened his eyes to heaven, and saw Christ interceding before the Father for his Church. Taken outside the city, as was Christ, to be stoned to death, Stephen like Christ prayed for those who were putting him to death, among whom was the future St. Paul. Through Stephen’s intercession Saul the murderer became Paul the apostle.

St. Peter Martyr, OP: St. Peter of Verona was first of the Dominican martyrs. A superb preacher, while assigned to work as an inquisitor in Italy, he won so many souls back from the heresy of Peter Waldo that the heretics conspired to put him to death. For this purpose they hired mercenary soldiers, to attack Peter and his companions while they were on the road between cities. Struck down by one of the murderer's billhook, Peter professed his faith in Christ, writing the word "Credo" in his own blood upon the road. His murderer, according to his own testimony, was brought to conversion, repentance, and life in a Dominican community through the intercession of St. Peter Martyr.

St John de Brebeuf: A priest of the Society of Jesus, St. John was sent to New France as a missionary to the Huron and Iroquois Natives. His success provoked the jealousy of the native religious leaders, who eventually took him prisoner to put him to death. He patiently endured horrific tortures by fire and knife, including being baptized with boiling water in mockery of the sacrament, and being forced to wear a necklace of tomahawk heads heated red-hot in the fire. His bravery, courage, and strength in the face of these torments won the admiration of even his torturers, and promoted greatly a spread of the Catholic Faith among Native Americans.

6. Quotations from Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI: The dream of blending divinity with humanity, the breaking out of the limitations of the creature -- this dream, which persists through all the history of mankind and in hidden

ways, in profane versions, is dreamed anew even within the atheist ideologies of our time, just as it is in the drunken excesses of the world without God-- this dream is here fulfilled (in the

Eucharist)

this blending, this union, has become possible because God came down in Christ,

took upon himself the limitations of human existence, suffering them to the end, and in the infinite love of the crucified One opened up the door to infinity. (Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith, The Church As Communion, Ignatius Press, 2005) .

Benedict XVI: (Speaking of Daniel Ch. 7) "Son of Man" was not used as a title at the time of

Jesus. But we find an early hint of it in the book of Daniel's vision of four beasts and the "Son of

Man" representing the history of the

world history

different happens. The seer perceives as if from afar the real Lord of the world in the image of

The image of the Son of Man who comes

"with the clouds of Heaven," prophesies a totally new kingdom, the kingdom of "humanity,"

characterized by the real power that comes from God

from above is less the antithesis of the beasts from the depths of the sea; as such, he stands not for an individual figure but for the "kingdom" in which the world attains its goal. (Jesus of Nazareth. New York, London, Sydney, Aukland: Doubleday, 2007.)

the Ancient of Days, who puts an end to the

He paints a dark, deeply disturbing picture of

but then -- after the power of evil has reached its apogee -- something totally

the "Son of Man" who comes

7. Other Considerations

Why does Christ hold off his second coming in glory? For mercy’s sake: God’s best revenge on sinners is not their destruction, but their conversion. If the whole world has been indeed locked in under sin as Romans 1 testifies, then no-one, even the so-called “religious” or “just’ cannot stand before the refining fire of the Messiah’s definitive and final advent (Malachi 3). The coming of the Messiah in history and the destruction of the earthly Temple has inaugurated a time of mercy and a hope of change for sinners before the end of history and the beginning of the definitive reign of God in justice.

In the present reign of grace, marked by the end of the fleshly Temple in Jerusalem and the founding of the new spiritual temple which is Holy Church, Christians face current tribulation and trials amid the bestial combat of nations and cultures who know not God (Daniel 7). Christian who imitate Christ in his patience and perseverance recapitulate thereby his witness to the world, and in a specific way most clearly manifested in the Church’s martyrs, in a sense re-incarnate his presence in and to the world by this imitation.

Recommended Resources

Benedict XVI. Jesus of Nazareth. New York, London, Sydney, Aukland: Doubleday, 2007.

Brown, Raymond E., S.S., Fitzmeyer, Joseph, S.J., and Murphy, Roland E., O. Carm. The

Jerome Biblical Commentary.

1968.

Two Vols. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.,

John Cassian. The Conferences. Trans. and annotated by Boniface Ramsey, O.P., Ancient Christian Writers Series No. 57. Walter J.Burghart, John Dillon, and Dennis D. McManus, Eds. New York, N.Y. and Mahwah , N.J.: Newman Press, 1997.

Jurgens, William A. The Faith of the Early Fathers. 3 Vols. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1979.

Thomas Aquinas, St. Works of the Fathers

Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected out of the Albany, N.Y.: Preserving Christian Publications, Inc., 2001.

Thomas Aquinas, St. Summa Theologica. 3 Vols. Literally translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, and San Francisco:

Benzinger Brothers, Inc., 1947.

Cameron, Peter John, O.P., ed. Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI. Yonkers, NY:

Magnificat/Ignatius Press, 2006.