Nov. 17, 2019 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Mal 3:19-20a; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19)

Malachi's prophesies speak of doom. Doom for the priests because of their corruption of the sacrifices they offer to God, offering sick and blind animals instead of the best of the herd. And doom for the laity because of their marriage with pagans and their repudiation of Israelite wives. But as with most such prophesies, the doom is balanced with mercy when Malachi writes of the faithful, “And you will gambol like calves out of the stall and tread down the wicked; They will become like ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day I take action, says the Lord of hosts.” The book of Malachi ends with “Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day.” This promise is figurative, and is explained by Jesus in Matthew 17, 10-13, and refers to John the Baptist as the fulfillment of this promise.

In a similar way the Gospel tells of the coming destruction of the temple as a kind of doom. When his disciples ask when this will happen, Jesus foretells much more than the mere destruction of the temple. He tells of coming persecution and martyrdom for his followers, as well as betrayal by friends and family. But this ominous prediction is also balanced with the promise that perseverance in faith will secure the lives of the faithful, and that Jesus himself will provide the means for that perseverance. Therefore we need not depend on our own eloquence, cleverness or strength. Jesus will provide what we need when we need it.