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: 1) keep your eyes open, 2) be courageous and 3) persevere, 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 Ukraine and for many years in the Middle East. There will be natural disasters like the hurricane that devastated Fort Myers in South Florida this year and the flooding in Pakistan last spring that affected millions of people. And human disasters like the flood of war refugees fleeing the Russians in Ukraine and the flood of economic refugees on our southern border and in many parts of Europe — much of it caused by evils in their country of origin that are compounded by the inhuman policies of our own government and others.
And the resurgent racism rooted in fear and fanned by demagogues, some of whom we have elected, with murderous consequences, like the massacre three years ago of 48 innocent people, 23 dead and 26 injured at the Walmart in El Paso where the killer specifically targeted Hispanics and the murder of 10 people and wounding of three others at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., where the killer specifically targeted African-Americans, or the murder of 49 innocent people and wounding of 53 more at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla., six years ago simply because they were gay.
There will be famine, ethnic conflict, epidemics — like COVID — and failed harvests due to climate change caused in part by human activity, slowly destroying our common home. I could give you a very long list of disasters. 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 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,
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
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.”
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Nov. 13.
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