Bishop Peter Muhich
Homily from the Televised Mass, NewsCenter1
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 13, 2022
It will lead to your giving testimony.
I was 16. It was summertime and my family went on vacation. Two parents, six kids, one modest size motorhome. For three weeks. We went from northern Minnesota to North Dakota to visit my father’s alma mater North Dakota State where he studied pharmacy. Then off to Montana and Glacier National Park. Then up into Canada to Banff National Park. Then to the west coast, and down the west coast to Los Angeles to visit an uncle. Then over to El Paso to visit a cousin in the army, and then to Kansas City, and then home.
Three weeks. Now, I love my family but sharing that much for that long. You know motorhomes, at least the one we had, was modest. You have that kind of combo shower, bathroom thing you’ve got to use. We were all stacked up like cordwood in these bunks at night. It was a long three weeks, and it was the first time I canever remember wanting a vacation to end and for school to begin. Again, two parents, six kids, a modest size motorhome, three weeks on the road.
I speak about this ending or wanting my vacation to end, because the Sunday’s readings are all about endings as they are always about this time of year. The themes of the end of the world, death, judgment, heaven and Hell, which I preached about last week, dominate the readings at the end of the liturgical cycle and the beginning of the season of Advent. Last week we had a question about resurrection. Will that happen when the end comes?
Next week, we’ll finish the liturgical year with the feast of Christ the King. Now as with my family vacation that summer when I was 16 that ended up changing the way I look at vacations and endings to vacations, we let the different experiences and things shape our attitudes toward the end of things.
What I would like to think about today is that just as that summer vacation showed me the possibility of looking at the end of a vacation differently, so we can be shown the possibility of looking forward to death in the end of the world by our faith, by what Christians have always believed. This is important because we’ve been influenced by our secular culture that teaches us to dread the end of life and the end of the world. Our culture frantically clings to youth, physical beauty, and earthly life and its pleasures. It does not want them to end. Followers of Christ, however, are to look forward to the end of life on earth and the end of the world and not fear it.
Today’s readings give us this message. Our first reading from a prophet Malachi looks forward to the end when the Lord comes, and the wicked will face a fiery end and justice will be vindicated. Things will be set aright.
Then the church puts on our lips the response to the psalm, “the Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.” Justice will have a last word when the end comes. And in the Gospel, Jesus is asked about the end, and he says don’t panic and don’t try to figure out exactly when it’s coming. Don’t be misled. Yes, you will be persecuted. Some of you will be put to death, but by perseverance you will secure your life. He means life everlasting. And your end, whatever that will be, will give you the opportunity to testify. Testify to what? Well, to God’s goodness, and truth and justice, to Jesus Christ who has unlocked the secrets to life. Who has defeated sin and death and given us the possibility of everlasting life. To testify to all of that.
Now I know the Lord says not to prepare what we’re going to say ahead of time, that he’ll give us the words to say when the time comes. But we should be prepared to testify, and I would propose that we can be prepared by being formed in certain ways.
To be formed by the scriptures, and not just by all the kinds of noise in our secular culture. To dwell with the scriptures. To meditate on them.
To be formed by holy people. Go find some. They’re everywhere. They’re people that have a strong sense of peace about them. They’re joyful. Watch them. Learn from them. Spend time with them.
Be formed by a life of prayer so that everyday we’re open to God and allowing him to speak to us.
And most of all be formed by the Eucharist. We’re in the very beginning of this Eucharistic Revival, a three-year period in our country where all the bishops and Catholics are hopefully rediscovering the power and the centrality of the Eucharist — that there’s nothing more important than what we’re doing right now, being with Jesus in these mysteries of his death and resurrection
So, look forward to the end. Don’t fear the end. Look at it as an opportunity to testify to those around you that you have hope. That Jesus Christ has won the victory, and that we look forward to the fullness of life that we have a foretaste of here, but will experience only definitively in its fullness in the life to come. If we live that way, we will have plenty of opportunities to share the faith with others, and our looking forward to the end will lead us to give testimony.