Reflection: Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

 Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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It seems that the motivations behind Jesus’ teaching in today’s gospel started with remarks about the fine decorations (e.g. the fine stonework and the votive offerings) of the Temple. But, unlike other gospel passages, no one asked Jesus any specific question to trigger his teaching. No one directly spoke with or passed any comment to Jesus. Unlike other passages, we are also not told about these people who commented about the Temple. Yet, on hearing their comments, Jesus tells them that all the decorations ‘will be destroyed’ which in turn seems to have created some curiosity among them because they continue the conversation with Jesus and ask when will this happen and what signs will there be that this is about to take place.

Jesus does not specify a given time ‘when’ this will happen. Instead, he tells them ‘what’ will happen, and urges them to be on their guard and not let themselves be deceived. Although Jesus tells them ‘how’ they might be deceived, he tells them that they have to go beyond what their experiences perceive. In fact, after speaking about the Temple, Jesus continues to speak about some really negative frightening experiences. He speaks about those who come and claim to be the Messiah and who might even repeat what the Messiah himself would say. Then he continues to speak about wars, revolutions, earthquakes, plagues, famines and fearful sights from heaven … but despite all this, Jesus asks them not to be frightened.

“But,” Jesus continues, “before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness”. Jesus says that although these things will come to pass, they should go beyond them and “keep carefully in mind” that Jesus himself will intervene and help them. In fact, Jesus ends his teaching in today’s gospel with “Your endurance will win you your lives.” Even though they see all these frightening things around them, they must continue to have faith because the Lord will intervene in their lives.

Jesus says that faith against all odds is what makes a follower of Christ a true disciple. This follower might see things around him that will try to discourage him, but his faith that the Lord will intervene, will save him. Our own human experience around us tells us that we are all heading towards total destruction and there is no hope – but our faith tells us otherwise: that God still loves us and amidst all the death and destruction we see around us, He will continue to love the world and give life to those who entrust themselves in him.

“Lord, often we end up admiring what our senses experience. Help us to go beyond our senses and appreciate the true value of what they represent. Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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