33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Nov 13, 2022
A father wanted to read a magazine, but was being bothered by his little daughter, Suzie. Finally, he tore a sheet out of the magazine, on which was printed, a map of the world. Tearing that page into smaller pieces, he gave it to Suzie and said, “Now go into the other room and see if you can put this back together.
After a few minutes, Suzie returned and handed him the map of the world correctly taped together. Astonished, the father asked her, “How did you put the map of the world together so quickly?”
“Oh, it was easy,” Suzie said. On the other side of the page was a picture of Jesus. When I got Jesus in his place, then the world came out all right!”
That little girl understood the underlying message of our gospel for today! She understood that the successes and failures of our world, our church, our families and our individual lives, all hinge on how well we understand what Jesus looks like —theologically— to us, how well we comprehend what Jesus came on earth to do, and how well we’ve integrated Jesus’ good news into our daily spirituality. The sooner we do this, the better—because, one day, the end of the world will arrive at a time that we don’t know, and we’ll have no opportunities left, to fully grasp the significance of God’s intervention into human history.
To help us in this task, it’s best if we start reflecting, on what preoccupied the life, heart, mind, body, and soul of Jesus when he lived on this earth. From even a peripheral reading of the New Testament, we can make some conclusions in this regard.
Firstly, we can attest that what concerned Jesus, the most, in his time spent here on earth, was people —and most especially those who were hurting, those who were ostracized by society or the temple, those on the fringes, and those whom others judged, looked down upon, or devalued in some form or fashion.
As a people-person, Jesus cared deeply about their lives that had been marred and scarred. He cared deeply about how they perceived their own self-worth, when others were telling them that they were worthless. He was deeply concerned about their feelings of hopelessness and of being unwanted and unloved. Unlike most, Jesus had a strong desire to enter into a relationship with them, to get to know them—through and through—and to invite them to embrace the good news of salvation which he proclaimed with every fibre of his being.
Related to this, we can attest that Jesus was concerned about fixing the injustices he saw present in the world. In particular, he focussed his time and attention on addressing the spiritual and physical poverty that he encountered, every day among the people. The root cause of this spiritual poverty was traced back to a failure on the part of the religious and civic leaders. For the most part, the poor weren’t being shown the love, mercy and tenderness of God for a sinful humanity by the religious leaders. They were, in fact, experiencing the opposite. Instead of preaching God’s care for the poor and the equal, inherent dignity given to every person, the religious leaders lived a luxurious lifestyle, paid for on the backs of the hardworking people of the time. Instead of challenging unjust political and social structures, their religious leaders preached maintaining the status quo and a sharp divide between rich and poor. The poor weren’t being shown an example, either, of repenting of one’s sins and turning back to God in humility of heart. They weren’t being given what they needed to survive and thrive in a world that was often hostile to religious faiths that were NOT the official religion of the state. Many were hungry, sick and dying and no one seemed to care. They were passed by, or walked over, on the streets and in the marketplaces, or were even expelled outside the city walls, blamed for their own misfortunes in life. Jesus would have none of this and he made his preferential option for the poor well known!
We know, too, that the inspiration, Jesus lifted up, to his followers was a vision of the Kingdom of God! From the moment Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit from his 40 days of temptation in the desert, he spent his lifetime on earth proclaiming the inauguration of this divine Kingdom! This Kingdom would be unlike any other! It would be a kingdom full of love, full of peace, full of joy, full of respect and dignity for every person. It would be a kingdom full of justice, full of forgiveness and redemption, full of hope in God’s promise of salvation. In short, it would be a kingdom that embodied the pervasive presence of God in all things and in every believing heart. What’s more, it would be a kingdom that wouldn’t have human borders, but would include people anywhere who chose to believe in God’s daring vision for a godly world. Naturally, such a kingdom would find opposition from those whose bottom line, position, or authority would be called into question by a kingdom of equals and a kingdom ruled by the One God of Israel. So, it’s not all surprising that some wanted Jesus dead, so as to stop the proclamation and the spread of this kingdom and to hinder others from thinking that such a kingdom was even possible.
When we reflect on all of this, we’re being invited by the Lord to assess whether we’ve fully understood and embraced the vision, the priorities and the values that Jesus promotes for our personal lives, for our church, and for our world today. Indeed, Jesus cautions us, “Beware that you are not led astray, for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and ‘the time is near!’ Do not go after them.” Essentially, what Jesus is saying, is that we must beware of con artists! Beware of people selling us on messages that run contrary to the Gospel message! Beware of people making Jesus’ overarching agenda something other than what is found in the Bible or promoted by the magisterium of the church.
Beware of those who prey on another’s ignorance of what Jesus stood for and who question the church’s role in authentically interpreting the scriptures for us.
Yes, there’s a lot of fake news out there, and not just in the political sphere. There’s fake news about the church, about who Jesus is, what he stood for, and when he’ll return. Some even put words and thoughts into Jesus’ mouth that he never would have said or agreed to. Sadly, there are soooo many voices and soooo many sources out there, competing for our attention and allegiance, that it can, sometimes, become almost impossible to distinguish the fake news that’s being promoted and disseminated, from the truth that’s often not as flashy or consistently reported or given air time. The key word here is ALMOST.
For as long as we know and integrate —deep down— the core drive and vision that Jesus embraced in his lifetime on earth —-as long as we accept to live by that same drive and commitment to God’s vision of the Kingdom every day, then we’ll ALWAYS be able to discern the true news from the fake news, the unadulterated facts from those that are made up, to promote some ungodly agenda. In short, so long as we keep the mindset of Jesus Christ ever before our own when making tough choices about how to live and act in this sinful world, then we won’t have anything to fear when the Lord does return in power and majesty, for we’ll have witnessed to the world, the Good News that Jesus himself proclaimed up to his dying breath.
To Download please click below.