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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Nov. 17, 2013

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

November 17, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Malachi 3:19-20a

Psalm 98:5-9

2) 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12

Gospel: Luke 21:5-19

Imagine a European Catholic immigrating to the United States in the late 1800s, leaving home, family and familiar customs behind. Unable to speak English very well, the immigrant and his family find friendship, a network of support and the familiar sounds of their native language in the parish church.

Imagine that same church, which had been so lovingly constructed a few years before, and which was the anchor of their social and spiritual lives, burning to the ground. But even that wouldn't compare to the anguish of seeing the newly rebuilt structure destroyed by a violent storm that demolishes all but the steeple.

In 19th- and early-20th-century South Texas, it was not unheard of for little country churches and schools to succumb to tornadoes, hurricanes or fires, sometimes more than once. (In fact, a history of the Texas Catholic Church during that period is aptly named "Through Fire and Flood.") Typically after such disasters, the indomitable parishioners would roll up their sleeves, rebuild their beloved houses of worship and start over.

If the churches of Texas immigrants were that important to their spiritual stability, the magnificent Jerusalem temple in today's Gospel was even more central to the life of the first-century Jew. Hence Jesus' warning of its utter destruction, of "wars and insurrections," "earthquakes, famines and plagues," must have been terrifying and almost inconceivable. Yet even in the face of such certain devastation, persecution and suffering, Jesus assures his disciples that he will preserve them from trouble if they persevere and trust him.

Easier said than done, right?

It's human nature, when threatened by destruction and chaos, to either try to escape the danger, deny that it exists or find solutions to fix the situation. The readings today call for none of these. Rather, according to the advice of St. Paul, we are to roll up our proverbial sleeves, conduct ourselves in an orderly and exemplary manner, do the work God has given us and persevere until the day that the same earth, sea and sky, which caused so much havoc, unite in joyful praise to the Lord who brings "justice with its healing rays."


Have you experienced the loss or destruction of something or someone who provided stability in your life? How were you able to persevere in hope and trust?


"By your perseverance you will secure your lives." -- Luke 21:19


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