He Protects Us | November 14, 2021
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
We are almost coming to the end of the liturgical calendar Year B and next Sunday we will be celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King. During this liturgical calendar we were given one Biblical personality to walk and pray with: St. Joseph. All though he is a silent character in the New Testament, his silence is worth a million words as he gave us the examples of obedience, righteousness, care, protection and love for God and his family. He is the patron saint of the parting souls who reminds us that we share in the resurrection of Christ who died on the Cross to give us eternal life.
The Readings this week not only speak about the end time, (Eschatology), they offer us a moment to reflect on the protection the Lord God is going to provide. Although end time narratives always scare people and thus no one wants to talk to about them. We want to live in peaceful world and don’t have to hear anything about violence, war, hatred, division, killing and destruction but reality is very bitter and maybe sometimes more than what we can think. However, when we hear about the end times through the Bible, it is not to scare us but to prepare us for the final destination, that is eternal life or heaven. God loves us and he wants to protect us, even though sometimes that protection may not be visible.
During World War II, a Marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific Island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire, he had lost touch with his comrades. Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that the enemy soldiers looking for him had swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed. As he waited, he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”
After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one.” Just then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave. “Hah” he thought, “what I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor.” As the enemy drew closer, he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered it for quite a while. “Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man, “I had forgotten that in you a spider’s web is stronger than a brick wall.”
We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways.
As the great leader, Nehemiah, reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem, “In God we will have success!” Nehemiah 2:20
Remember: Whatever is happening in our life, with God, a mere spider’s web can become a brick wall of protection. Trust and believe that He is with us always. Just ask for his help and we will see His great power and love for us. Issues concerning the end of the world have always been fascinating. They are also quite terrifying. The end of the world will usher in a time of divine judgment. We might not like to talk about it, but we must.
There are really only three ways we can look at the end of the world. The first way is popular, and it goes like this: “What ‘end of the world?’ There’s not going to be any ‘end of the world.’ Who’s to say there’s some God? Or a purpose? Or guiding hand? Or any real progress to speak of? History isn’t going anywhere, except maybe ’round and ’round in a circle. There’s not going to be any ‘end of the world’. The second way we can look at the end of the world is to say, “There sure is going to be an ‘end of the world!'” This second view usually comes in different versions. For example, many folks speak of an environmental apocalypse, saying, “Follow the trends on rising temperatures, melting glaciers, disappearing rain forests, and shrinking ozone layers.
Third, is a spiritual end times of the world which Bible speaks frequently about. Why Bible or God needs to speak about end times when God himself created world with great love and has never left the world unattended? Is God making people afraid of the end times, when he himself says “do not be afraid, I am with you till the end of age? Answer to above all is only “No because he loves us, and he wants to protect us from every fear and evil” as St. Paul says, “he can not deny himself”. So, the world is going to end one day – but probably not yet. There is a day coming in which God will destroy the universe and all that is in it. The Bible refers to that day in various terms: the “day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36), “Christ’s second coming” (1 Corinthians 15:23), the “great and terrible day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5).
In the First Reading we read through Prophet Daniel about the end times but with the great image of a protector St. Michael the Archangel. “When those terrible things take place, God has a plan to save his people. We first heard of Michael in 10:13, when “a man clothed in linen”—presumably an angel sought to reassure Daniel. He said that “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” had opposed him, but Michael dealt with that dark prince. He then said, “there is none who holds with me against these, but Michael your prince”. In the New Testament, Michael is portrayed as fighting Satan (Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7).
This time of anguish would be when Antiochus IV tried to “profane the sanctuary, even the fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt offering, and they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate”. He will defeat Egypt and “go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to sweep away many”. In spite of this bad king’s power and wealth, “he shall come to his end, and none will help him”. His power and wealth will not protect him against justice of God, who will deliver his people. That is a book in which God records the names of the righteous. It is “a list of those who belong to God’s people, the citizen list of the true Jerusalem”. Daniel’s vision promises that the faithful shall shine like those stars—beautiful—dependable—useful—eternal. People would admire them. They would learn to guide by the light of their faithful mentors. Faithful people would bless all those who observed their lives, just as we are all blessed by the lights that God has placed in the sky. Surely with this verse in mind, Jesus concluded his Parable of the Weeds by saying: “Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43).
The Responsorial Psalm contains the prayer of protect and refuge “Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge”. This Psalm encourages us to keep praying every day to God for our protection and protection of others. During this pandemic we have seen similar situation as fear has wrapped the whole world, yet no one has the answer “how and when this pandemic will end?” The Author of Letter to Hebrews does remind us of that despite all fear, sorrows, anguish and grief of end time, we must believe in Jesus “who had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since then has been waiting until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering, he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified”. How do we trust in the protection of Jesus, is a question for us to reflect?
This is a writing by an unknown author on behalf of Jesus for us to ponder upon.
As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor, and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. during this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer. It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have lots of fun, but they don’t know the meaning of the celebration. I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts, and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, beautifully wrapped gifts. But do you want to know something? I wasn’t invited. I was the guest of honor, and they didn’t remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside they closed the door in my face, and I wanted to be with them and share their table.
In truth, that didn’t surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me. Since I wasn’t invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner. They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time. To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying: “Santa Claus, Santa Claus” as if the party were in his honor! At midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and do you know no-one hugged me. Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one? I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left. Every year it gets worse. People only remember the gifts, the parties, to eat and drink, and nobody remembers me. I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life. I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you. Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart. I want to share something with you. As many didn’t invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party. I’m still making the final arrangements.
Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you. I want to know if you wish to attend, and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book. Only those on the guest list will be invited to the party. Those who don’t answer the invite will be left outside. Be prepared because when all is ready you will be part of my great party.
See you soon. I Love you! Jesus.
The Gospel of this Sunday of the liturgical year offers us part of Jesus’ discourse regarding the last events of human history, oriented toward the complete fulfilment of the reign of God. It is the talk that Jesus gave in Jerusalem before his last Passover. It has certain apocalyptic elements, such as wars, famine, cosmic catastrophes: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken”. However, these segments are not the essential part of the message. The core around which Jesus’ words turn is he himself, the mystery of his person, and of his death and resurrection, and his return at the end of time. He is for eternity who has conquered the world and its forces.
Holy Father Pope Francis reflecting on the Gospel says “Our final goal is the encounter with the Risen Lord. I would like to ask how many of you think about this. “There will be a day in which I meet the Lord face to face”. And this is our goal: the encounter. We do not await a time or a place, but we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Thus, the problem is not “when” these premonitory signs of the last days will occur, but rather our being prepared. Neither is it about knowing “how” these things will happen, but instead “how” we have to act today, in awaiting these things”.
We are called to live the present, building our future with serenity and trust in God. The parable of the fig tree that sprouts, as a sign of the approaching summer teaches that the perspective of the end doesn’t distract us from the present life, but rather brings us to look at our current days with an outlook of hope. The smallest but strongest of the virtues. And our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord, who comes “with great power and glory”, which will manifest his love, crucified, and transfigured in the Resurrection. This virtue of hope that is so hard to live. Many of you will agree with me that this pandemic has really exposed the true colours of our lives and faith. How many of us are divided over the pandemic issues, masking & vaccine for example to mention some? So much hate and division going on in our society that we have lost respect for other people. The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the Cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbour, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point during the upheavals and tragedies of the world.
The Lord Jesus is not only the destination of our earthly pilgrimage, but also a constant presence in our lives; he is also beside us, he always accompanies. That’s why, when we speak of the future and project ourselves toward it, it is always to lead us back to the present. He weeps over the destruction of Jerusalem and how much more will he not cry for us (Luke 20)? He is at our side; he walks with us; he loves us. He wants to remove from his disciples of every age the curiosity about dates, predictions, horoscopes, and focus their attention on the today of history. How many of you read your horoscope every day? Each one answer, and when you feel like reading your horoscope, look to Jesus who is with you. This is better and will be better for you. This presence of Jesus calls us to the anticipation and vigilance that exclude both impatience and weariness, both the escaping to the future and the becoming prisoners of the current moment and of worldliness. Remember the words of Jesus “Come to me all those who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, I will give you rest” (Mt 11:27-30). St. Peter does warn to be strong against the devil who deceives us, makes afraid of our future rather than trusting in the Lord who protects us from every evil and human powers “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen” (5:6-11).
In our days, too, there is no lack of natural and moral disasters, nor of adversities and difficulties of every kind. Everything passes, the Lord reminds us; he alone, his Word remains as the light that guides and encourages our steps. He always forgives us because he is at our side. We need only look at him and he changes our hearts. St. Paul says “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So, death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).
Do we believe in his protection?
Other Sermons In This Series
December 16, 2022
June 16, 2023
April 29, 2022