Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 13, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings carry the full flavor of the “end times” warnings, those repeated annually as we move closer to Advent (which is only two weeks away!) When I was a kid, these readings scared me. And now, even as an elder, I’m not particularly in love with them!
But, nevertheless, you gotta’ love Malachi! What a powerful poet! His message of impending judgement and necessary repentance definitely hits the mark.
Wow! Really? Depending on where we stand in our moral life, our reaction to this announcement might range from:
“Good! Go get ‘em, God!”
“Oh, dear God, I hope it’s not me!!!”.
Nobody wants to be “stubble” when the final fires blaze. So how can we avoid that? Paul resets us on the right track, from both “cheer” and “fear” to commitment. He instructs his readers to do their job, living and honest simple lives. He says something like this:
Listen! You must imitate your teachers in Christ.
Live with integrity, justice and generous mercy.
Navigate the world with these as your compass.
Then you will welcome the end times.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus offers an equally dire prediction of the end times. When we read the list of disasters and betrayals Jesus describes, we must admit that every one of them occurs somewhere in our world everyday. In essence, we already live in the “end times”, trying to welcome and foster Divine Grace in our piece of the universe.
Today’s readings are an alarm clock. They call us to recognize the geopolitical world we live in as the emerging Realm of God, and to do our part to bring that realm to full realization.
It is likely impossible to communicate God’s vision for the world in the language of politics. Scripture offers us the transcendent gift of the eloquent prophets Malachi and Jesus describing not only their own times but ours as well.
Walter Brueggemann says this:
The prophet’s task is to imagine the world as though Yahweh, the God of Israel and the creator of heaven and earth, were a real character and a lively agent in the life of the world. I believe that such a claim, then and now, has to be articulated poetically in order not to be co-opted by political absolutism or theological orthodoxy.
Our readings today give us this poetic vision and challenge. Read them with great longing to hear God’s voice for our times. The world so sorely needs the answer that will blossom by the perseverance of our lives.
Poetry: A Song on the End of the World – Czeslaw Milosz
Czeslaw Milosz ranks among the most respected figures in 20th-century Polish literature, as well as one of the most respected contemporary poets in the world: he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980.
On the day the world ends A bee circles a clover, A fisherman mends a glimmering net. Happy porpoises jump in the sea, By the rainspout young sparrows are playing And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be. On the day the world ends Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas, A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn, Vegetable peddlers shout in the street And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island, The voice of a violin lasts in the air And leads into a starry night. And those who expected lightning and thunder Are disappointed. And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps Do not believe it is happening now. As long as the sun and the moon are above, As long as the bumblebee visits a rose, As long as rosy infants are born No one believes it is happening now. Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy, Repeats while he binds his tomatoes: There will be no other end of the world, There will be no other end of the world.
Music: Let Justice Roll – video of the Salvation Army