Homily For The 33rd Sunday In Ordinary Time, 13 November 2022
English Mass 12 noon St Ignatius Church, Tokyo
My Dear Friends,
As you participate in this Holy Mass the Lord invites you to reflect on calamities, strife and stress and all problems and sufferings that happen around us. The Lord is telling us:
Do not be afraid. I am with you.”
Let me focus on the Gospel given to us this Sunday. It is Luke chapter 21/5-19. The context is the fall of Jerusalem. The temple of Jerusalem was the pride of place for every Jew. The Romans under the leadership of General Titus conquered it during the time of AD 66-71. The final fall was the fall of Massada. Nearly 900 Jewish soldiers took shelter under the top of Mount Massada. The Romans surrounded the hill. As the enemies approached the Jewish soldiers knew their end was near. To die at the hands of the alien power is very despicable. So they formed themselves into groups of ten and the leader killed nine under his command and finally finished himself! The Romans found 900 bodies and that marked the end of the fall of Jerusalem. The prophesy regarding the fall of Jerusalem is made use of as the Gospels come to be preached. And through this the Lord is leading all of us to the heart of the Gospel: Do not be afraid; believe in the Gospel; believe in the Lord. See that you are not deceived.” Deception is very common even in our times. Quite often people are carried away by deceptive cult figures who instil lot of fear in us. They are all doomsday prophets. They will tell you that the Lord is coming soon. Such people write on mountain tops:
He is coming soon.”
Persecutions and problems shall not shake our foundations. We should not be quick to say that when wars happen, the end of the world is near. Remember, after the founding of the UN, 800 wars have taken place. Come what may: nothing shall shake our foundations. It is instructive to recall what St Paul wrote in Romans 8/38-39. St Paul concludes:
Nothing can separate us from the love of my Lord.”
Through todays Gospel, Jesus is telling us an important truth: great men and women deep in faith, strong in compassion, did not emerge suddenly. They have gone through tough times, and have been purified through suffering.
The Lord is not telling us about the end of the world. But he teaches us how to face calamities, volcanoes, earthquakes, and all forms of difficulties and sufferings. “ Do not be afraid.” It is said that if you go through the Bible, nearly 365 times words similar to this are found: Do not be afraid. It is meant for each day!
Let me quote the sublime poetic words of Rabindra Nath Tagore (1861-1941) who received Nobel Prize for Literature.
Have you not heard his silent steps… He comes …comes… ever comes.”
The purpose of the Gospel is not to instil fear in us but to recognize the heart of the Gospel in the life and ministry of Jesus our Lord.
Fr E.P. Mathew, SJ