33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Lo the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evil doers 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. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays (Malachi).
In today’s gospel, people are looking at the magnificence of the Temple and Jesus says, “…the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Lk. 21:5). When he is asked, when will this happen? He goes on with a discourse that sounds like a prediction of his second coming.
Luke’s Gospel was written about 20 years after the destruction of the Temple. The slaughter of the Jews and Jewish-Christians was well known. The expectation that Jesus would return at that moment was unfulfilled. The Christians at that time wanted to know what it all meant. Today we still disagree on the meaning of all that happened two thousand years ago.
In his book, Zealot, Reza Aslan describes the Temple worship in Jerusalem, at the time of Jesus, as prideful, evil, and corrupt. It angered Jews who did not benefit economically from the cult worship. Jews were expected to participate in the worship and exploited for doing so. They had no recourse for complaint, except rebellion, because the Temple priests were in collaboration with the Roman occupiers. To rebel against the authority of the Priests and the Romans would be punishable by crucifixion a way thousands were killed. Aslan suggests it gives credibility that Jesus said, before his death, to be a follower of his one needed to pick up his cross.
It is interesting historically, 30 years after Jesus’ death the sacrificial cult worship at the heart of Judaism disappeared for good and at the same time the sacrificial worship of the Eucharist began for Christians. The sacrifices that fed the Chief Priests and their court were transformed into the Eucharist that feeds us in seeking the Kingdom of God.
In looking at today, I wonder who the proud and the evil doers are now? When I was young it knew it had to be the criminals, gang bangers, drug dealers, communists, abortionists, and non-church goers. I thought that following the rules of the Church and having a strong moral character would be all that I needed to be blessed by God. However, I found that living that way mostly made me proud. In the bible pride leads to hardness of heart, which leads to condemnation by Jesus and the prophets. Which twice led to destruction of the temple and exile from the promised land.
What I found these last thirty years in working among the gang bangers, drug dealers, prostitutes, unchurched, those who have had abortions, and the poor is that God is in their midst and that grace abounds. The biggest problems come from our educated elite who harden their hearts towards the poor.
The Gospels tell us that we are to love one another as Jesus loved us. Of course that means we love our brothers and Sisters in the Church, but we must go beyond that. Meaning we humble ourselves and soften our hearts toward the poor and the unchurched. This will cause the powerful and those with hard hearts to be angry with us.
At the conclusion of today’s Gospel, Luke writes that Christians will suffer persecution, misunderstanding, and punishment. “Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself will give you a wisdom in speaking… they will put some of you to death… but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your life” (Lk. 21:17-19).

About Brothers and Sisters of Love

The Mission of Brothers and Sisters of Love is to be a visible sign of Jesus’ Love, Peace, and Presence to the poor in gang-infested neighborhoods in Chicago and to be a bridge between gangs & the poor with the Church. This is done by: 1. Loving everyone 2. Trusting in God 3. Forgiving everyone everything 4. Never being afraid.
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