Patient Endurance
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

We are coming to the end of the liturgical season. The liturgical cycle ends with the celebration of the feast of Christ the King next Sunday. After that, a new cycle begins with the first Sunday of Advent. Appropriately enough, the readings of this Sunday remind us of the proper Christian attitude toward the end of the world.

Disaster movies abound and some become top earners. These movies show some impending disaster such as a massive earthquake, a big meteor about to crash into earth, an abrupt climate change, or aliens invading the earth. As movies go, a technology is proposed and heroes arise to avert the disaster. Life goes back to normal and people live happily ever after.

Action starter: Do not be misled by false prophets who will use our fears for their ends.

Such movie themes tug at a common chord of insecurity in the human heart. Since the dawn of civilization, our ancestors had to contend with forces that threaten their survival. They had to forage for food, confront wild animals, protect themselves from marauding enemies, build shelters and survive harsh weather conditions. The world was dangerous and survival was precarious.

We learned to deal with the threats to our survival. With our creativity we have come up with the technology by which life became more secure and comfortable. We learned to employ various resources and invent tools so that we can have food, shelter, clothing, and the means to protect ourselves. As we progress, we come to realize that today our greatest threat to our own survival is ourselves.

Humanity may have come up with ways to improve food production but we have not been creative enough to improve food distribution. In some places food go to waste while in many countries people die of hunger. We have come up with sophisticated arms to protect ourselves to the point that we are using them to kill one another. We have built homes to shelter ourselves from the weather so that we can keep ourselves cool when it is hot and keep ourselves warm when it is cold. In the process we are endangering the planet by causing global warming.

That the world is in danger and that human survival is threatened is no longer a subject of debate. We are also made more and more aware that we are our own greatest enemy. We have to heed the warning of the common caricature of the modern prophet standing by the roadside with the sign, “The end is near. Repent.” We do need to repent, not just as individuals for our individual sins but also corporately. We are one people living in one world. Perhaps with humanity’s common effort we will be able to deal creatively with the disasters that are engulfing us, “Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Lk. 21:10-11).

The signs are around us. The price of oil is going up. Water is becoming scarce. People are being killed by bombs. Mountains are being denuded. Waste is piling up. The temperature is getting warmer and the weather more erratic. Typhoons occur in some places while other parts of the globe are drying up.

What then is the proper Christian attitude in the midst of these realities? It should be that of hopeful endurance, knowing that God’s goodness will triumph over evil, and faith will overcome fear and suffering We have different counsels from the readings of this Sunday: “Take care not to be deceived” (Lk.21:8). “My brothers, never grow tired of doing what is right” (2 Thess.3:13). “For you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays” (Mal. 3:19-20)