27 November 2008 Thursday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Revelations 18, 1-9; Psalm 100; Luke 21, 20-28
The readings of the day announced the fall of two great cities: the Fall of Babylon and the Fall of Jerusalem. The Gospel of Luke announced the fall of Jerusalem --- Though Luke was writing after it had already been seized by the Romans in 70 AD. In the first reading from Revelation, the great city of Babylon represented imperial Rome. Thus, this was the message of the reading: oppression caused by Rome’s emperors such as Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian would eventually end. Rome would eventually be defeated.
Both cases were encouragements for the faithful followers of Jesus not to be discouraged or to be afraid, even if it entailed martyrdom and persecution from the forces of evil. Jesus promised spiritual protection for all those who endured suffering for His sake. In these two readings, the faithful were asked to flee the cities so that they will not be destroyed or entangled in its sins. The faithful was encouraged to remain in the faith because eventually evil will not be victorious.
There is a great lesson we can learn from the readings today: we can trust the Lord that He will end the evils of our world. Take for example those who work for social justice. The situation of graft and corruption in our country can frustrate and weaken the faith of those who fight against unjust people and structures. The culture of injustice is like a great beast that is impossible to defeat. The tendency is to be resigned and to be absorbed by it. Jesus, nevertheless, tells us to continue the struggle for peace and equality. We may not see its total eradication in our life time, but we can hope for that time.
Take another example. Many Christians would rather choose acts of charity that entails less involvement. Not that they are bad, but they are not good enough. When one donates, like a yearly rummage sale for the poor or a Christmas gift-giving, it may help alleviate the suffering of the poor for a day or two, but it would never solve the issue of poverty. To help in the eradication of destitution would entail a greater involvement that does not promise too much hope. Jesus, nonetheless, tells us to continue helping the poor. We may not witness its solution, but we can hope for that time.
In our personal lives, there are people who find “persecuting” us a pastime. These people pester us at home, work or organizations. They destroy our moods. They bully us. But Jesus reminds us that while we assert and confront them, there is a time when they would realize that they are the ones who need help.
The readings remind us of two things. In the midst of great persecution, we have to be pro-active. We refuse to be resigned to the pervading culture of death. We do not believe that evil will prevail. In addition, we should not allow the pervading culture to ruin whatever hope that’s left.