Sunday, November 17, 2019

+ 33rd Sunday C +

At the end of the liturgical year we pray over the end of the world.

The focus is not on when it will happen, but on how we are to live in this age of the Church, until the Lord returns to us at the end of the world, or until we return to him at the end of our lives.

Christ and his kingdom of justice, love, and peace must become and remain the central focus, the quiet obsession, the first love of our lives that prioritizes, puts in context, and gives meaning to all other decisions—to all that happens to us.

Falling in love with Christ is an attraction that engages your freedom and leads to both discipline and creativity.

It is something you choosen and something that demands obedience. You remain free, but you have to follow where it leads. If you live the life of Jesus, it is going to lead to a share in his death.

It will lead to experiencing indifference, ridicule, opposition, and betrayal—at times from unbelievers, at times from folks who think they are more Catholic than anyone else.

The temptation is always there to become a cynic, a spectator, a dropout—but by patient endurance we save our lives.

This is not stoicism, but the ultimate freedom to live with dignity in the face of adversity—to live with sure and certain hope.

We learn to live with fewer illusions about ourselves, about institutions, about relationships.

As today’s gospel says, in moments of trial words and wisdom are given.

Of course, there are periods in every life of resignation and blindly putting one foot in front of another—of interior struggle and darkness.  I think of what the Spanish philosopher Unamuno said:

Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in their minds, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God himself.

Our pope would agree. There is a dappled beauty born only in those who continue to give themselves joyfully, regardless of their doubts and anguish because God is present.

Christ our brother is the guide to an authentic regenerated humanity. You see it in some elderly faces—so wrinkled, so what-you-see-is-what-you-get, so full of light.

He makes possible for us a realism that faces the human situation and finds in it companionship with the Lord and one another—companionship in the struggle and the destiny that leads to the kingdom.

All of this we take into ourselves when we celebrate and receive the Eucharist:

We make present, we look forward to a future that passes through the birth canal of struggle, suffering, death—to the great gathering at the banquet table of the kingdom.

When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come in again.

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