Gospel: Luke 21:5-19
At first gance the readings this week do seem rather gloomy and depressing. In the first reading the prophet Malachi speaks of a burning oven and of arrogant evil-doers becoming stubble. St. Paul forbids giving food to those not working because they believe Jesus’ return to be imminent. And St. Luke speaks of days ahead when nations will destroy each other, and of famines, earthquakes, plagues before Christ come again. Doesn’t sound like good news, does it? But if one listens and ponders carefully to the words of Jesus, he provides words of hope for all those experiencing the pain, fear, and sorrow of real life in this world. Ultimately, the Gospel encourages us not to despair even if the worst is happening. Keep on going and living in hope for God knows and cares, and is with us. Don’t look for easy answers, or listen to fake prophets that say something different, but live in hope and by the Gospel of love. Don’t give up, but endure. Trust in God’s word, and in God’s love while facing life’s problems. As disciples we are to carry our cross of suffering, always confident of finding eternal comfort and peace. “By your endurance” he says, “you will gain your souls.” ( Luke 21:19)
Jesus was a realist and he knew that life could be tough. He never promised us a life of comfort in this world, but gave us the the Spirit and the tools of faith, hope, and love to deal with suffering and to give us joy even in suffering. He promised us that God would never give up on us, and asked us to do the same with God.
At times the Bible confronts us with the harsh realities of life, but always with a spirit of hope, unlike our nightly news broadcasts. Scientists tell us that those that watch the news on a regular basis are sometimes prone to depression and anxiety, and that a new disorder called, ‘compassion fatigue’, now exists because of the desensitizing nature of watching others suffer. The TV News portrays the terrible suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters, and reminds us of our own. But unlike the bible, the News offers no hope. The News reports one disaster after another with no view of hope on the horizon. Jesus, however says, “Be not afraid”, for the light will overcome the darkness, and, “I am with you all days, unto the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Here is a little video (vodcast) of a homily by priest that reminds me of a happy Andy Rooney. Although he is not as professionally coached, recorded and edited as what we have become used to on TV, he reflects in his voice and message some of the joy and hope that comes from knowing Jesus and living in faith.
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