Homily by Father Alex McAllister SDS
Jesus utters a rather terrifying prophesy in our Gospel reading for this second last Sunday of the liturgical year. The Temple will be destroyed, nation will fight against nation, there will be earthquakes, plagues and famines, and the disciples of Jesus will be severely persecuted.
All these things have already come to pass, some of them many times over. We also know that as the future unfolds there will be many more cataclysmic events. These catastrophes seem to be the lot of mankind down the centuries and the last century was certainly no exception nor will be the century we now live in.
We do what we can to avoid war and to avert calamity but it is not easy for there are so many other forces at work. Even if it were possible to minimise the impact of humanity on the natural world there would still be earthquakes and hurricanes and other natural disasters such as the earthquakes we have witnessed in Italy.
We don’t know what causes this or that natural catastrophe but this wonderful planet on which we live exists in a state of constant movement and adjustment and the creaks and groans of the earth frequently have a very severe impact on its inhabitants.
And as regards wars and revolutions, for all we might hope and work for peace there are constant tensions between peoples and long histories of struggle. Conflicting interests and ambitions often cause injustices and these frequently boil over into violence which itself leads so often to a whole new set of injustices.
Although in the light of these things we might feel from time to time that the end of the world cannot be far away it hasn’t come yet. We do not know when the Last Day will come, Christ does not tell us. But what he does tell us very clearly in this text today is not to listen to those who say the end is nigh.
What we have to do is simply to live our lives as one of his true followers and take what comes. Each generation and place brings its own challenges for the Christian. For some this will involve being persecuted, for others it will mean resisting apathy and marginalisation. The important thing is that we remain faithful to Christ whatever the particular challenges might be.
This is what we are really about; this is the task of the Christian, to live the same kind of life that Jesus lived. To model ourselves so closely on him that we begin instinctively to think about things the way he does. That our actions become the type of things he would do. This is what it is to be a Christian; this is what it is to be Christ-like.
The only problem with doing this is that one begins to find that the kind of things that happened to Jesus begin also to happen to you.
Now that sounds fine if people begin to look up to you and listen to what you say with greater care and you get a lot of invitations to come and visit their homes.
The drawback is that it also means that a fair number of people will dislike you; all kinds of obstacles will appear in your path. And the shadow of the Cross will begin to appear in your life.
Of course, the Cross is something that we all know about, we all realise that it is part and parcel of the life of a Christian. We all acknowledge that it is inevitable and necessary, that is until we begin to experience it. Then the shadow of death comes over us with a chill, and suddenly we begin to realise just what the Cross really means.
But what words of consolation does Jesus give us? 'Do not worry what to say, I myself will give you an eloquence and a wisdom that no one will be able to resist or contradict. And your endurance will win you your lives.'
This is the truth, and these are the words of Jesus. Follow my teachings, live the gospel values, stay close to the Father and all will be well. The Cross is not the end. No, it is not the end, it is just the beginning.
We here comprise the Parish of St Joseph; we here are Christ's witnesses in this district of Wealdstone and its surrounding area. Jesus teaches us the importance of public witness to our faith. I suppose if there is a key word in this Gospel passage it is that very word witness. As Jesus says: 'These persecutions will be your opportunity to bear witness'.
We are his witnesses. But what is a witness? In a court you can only be a witness if you were there and have seen and experienced the events under examination. The same goes for the spiritual life, you can only be a witness to Christ if you have met him and experienced his love and healing in your life.
We can only be witnesses to his salvation if we ourselves know what it is. This is why we gather together each week to proclaim God’s praises, to hear his teaching and to break the bread of life together. For it is here at this table of the Lord that we are at one with him, that we experience communion with him—the Lord of Heaven.
It is truly only through our presence here each week and our participation in this Eucharist that we are at all qualified to bear witness to him.
We are the ones who are looked to when people want to see Christ in our present day. They look at our lives, our reputations, the strength of our faith, the depth of our interest in justice, they look at everything we say or do. They know we are his witnesses, and they look to us because the one they want to find is Christ.
We are all very aware of our own unworthiness, our own inability when it comes to putting in to practice much of what Christ teaches. We know that we leave a lot to be desired. And we think that we can hardly give witness to anything much let alone Christ.
But do not be fooled. When they look at us, looking for Christ, they do find him.
St Joseph's Catholic Church
191 High Road
18.00 (Vigil with Hymns)
09.30 (Family Mass)
11.00 (Solemn Mass)
12.30 (With Hymns)
Weekdays: 07.30 & 10.00
Confessions: Saturday 10.30-11.00 & 19.00-19.30
St Joseph's Catholic Church
T: 020 8427 1955
Saturday: 18.00 (Vigil with Hymns)
Sunday: 08.15, 09.30 (Family Mass), 11.00 (Solemn Mass), 12.30, 18.00
Weekdays: 07.30, 10.00 - additional mass every first Friday at 19.00
Saturday: 11.00 & 19.00-19.30
First Friday: 18.00-18.45
EXPOSITION & BENEDICTION
First Friday: 18.00-18-45