Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Nov. 17.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by big problems?
Your son takes up with a woman who is nothing but trouble. Your troublesome in-laws are coming to visit for three months. Your husband has begun coming home late from work and you’re suspicious. Your wife drinks too much and lies a lot. Your kids hang around with a bad crowd. Your elderly father gets confused and has started acting ugly and your mom won’t explain where she got those bruises and he still drives a car. Or you young people, you don’t feel accepted by others and some kids in your school are really mean, not to mention the teachers.
You feel overwhelmed and it looks like it’s only going to get worse. What should you do?
In today’s Gospel Jesus says to do three things:
• Keep your eyes open.
• Be courageous.
And he promises to help us through these troubles. Here Jesus is speaking about the persecution of believers and the terrifying end of the world, but what he says applies to other troubles as well.
At the end of time there will be wars just like in every age and insurrections, like now in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. There will be natural disasters like the hurricane that devastated the Bahamas this year and the flooding here in Arkansas last spring.
And human disasters like the flood of refugees on our southern border and the misery caused by evils in their country of origin that are compounded by the inhuman policies of our own government. And the resurgent racism rooted in fear and fanned by demagogues, some of whom we have elected, with murderous consequences, like the massacre on Aug. 3 of 48 innocent people, 22 dead and 26 injured at the Walmart in El Paso where the killer specifically targeted Hispanics or the massacre of nine innocent worshipers four years ago at the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., by a white man who was trying to spark a race war.
There will be famine, ethnic conflict and epidemics like in Botswana where a third of the population is HIV-positive, and failed harvests due to climate change caused in part by human activity that is damaging to the environment, slowly destroying our common home.
I could give you a very long list of disasters, both natural and human. Does this mean that the world is about to come to an end?
In today’s Gospel Jesus says: “Do not be deceived … for it will not immediately be the end.” Elsewhere he says no one knows when it will happen, “not even the Son of Man” — and he’s the one coming back! But then as now, believers who keep their eyes open, act courageously and persevere will prevail. Jesus says: “By your perseverance you will save your lives.”
And what is true on the cosmic level about persevering despite all the adversities leading up to the end of the world is true also on the personal level about us persevering despite all the personal adversities we must face while still in this life. All of the things I mentioned at the beginning of this homily — family troubles above all.
1) Keep your eyes open: to see what’s really going on, then 2) be courageous about how you confront these problems, and do not by any means ignore them or pretend they aren’t there, otherwise you’re headed for disaster for sure, and finally 3) persevere, confident in your share in Jesus’ victory.
We will see him again, through grace-filled events in this life, on the day of our death and on the day of his Second Coming in glory.
As we read in today’s first reading from Malachi: “Lo the day is coming … when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble … but for you who fear my name there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”
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