Next Sunday we will celebrate the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe followed by Advent. Quickly enough it will be the most wonderful time of the yearand joy to the worldand peace on earth’. But before we get there, this is the second Sunday in which the general theme of the readings has revolved around end times. This Sunday we see a lot of turbulence but also
promise.

Saint Paul wrote two letters to the faithful in Thessalonica that are part of the Bible. In the second letter St. Paul is concerned about the disorder and discord in the church located on the coast of the northwest Aegean Sea. St. Paul had previously corrected the Thessalonians but too many refused to listen and they remained at odds with one another. The prophet Malachi admonished exiles returning to Israel after the Babylonians defeated and scattered Israel and also destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Malachi sees this mayhem as the result of the Israelites rejection of Gods overtures of love and care and call to rightful living. Still, God remains faithful to His people and offers them healing and restoration if they return obediently to Him.
The net so far is that when we reject God and do as we want, life gets messy. Joy dissipates. Rancor and discontent prevail. Disorder dominates. Sound familiar? St. Luke tells us of the time that Jesus predicted the destruction of the third Temple in Jerusalem. Herod tore down the second Temple and was building a new one. It was really a temple to Herod not to God. Small wonder that Jesus says nothing about trying to save it. He goes on to let His disciples know that there will be a time of tribulation.
St. Thomas More described tribulation as anything that pains the body, mind or spirit and disrupts a persons wellbeing. It is ‘great inward troubleand often a secret grief. The Bible also talks about the great tribulation which is what Jesus is specifically addressing today. In any case, tribulation (disruption, disorder, discord) tests our hearts and thereby reveals what we truly care about through our response, or reaction, to testing. A response is considered, controlled. A reaction is thoughtless panic. A reaction is useful when instant action is necessary to avoid danger. A reaction is detrimental when a response is in order.

Jesus provides the proper response when we are tested. First, He says that we need to be aware of selfproclaimed saviors and stay away from them. He then reminds us that trouble presents opportunities to rely on God and to demonstrate our faithfulness to God. What we see may be taken away. But the greatest thing we are offered eternal life is secured, now and forever. As Julian of Norwich said, All will be well and all manner of things will be well’. There is no panic in heaven. We need not ever despair.

Deacon Greg Osgood