Browsing Reflections

Fr. Jo's Reflection for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Yr C, November 13, 2022

You must have heard about Fr. Sean Sheehy in Ireland who was reprimanded by his bishop for preaching a homily few Sundays ago, encouraging God’s people to repent from their sins. He mentioned some of the sinful behaviors that many in modern Western society no longer consider sinful: abortion, promiscuity, homosexuality, and the transgender lunacy. His bishop went on air apologizing to people about the homily, saying that Father Sheehy should have preached about love, care, and acceptance. He barred the priest from ever celebrating Mass publicly.

So, just to let you know: we are on the edge of a precipice into a very frightening abyss. This experience made me so furious that I nearly cursed. Many priests and bishops feel the same. I request your prayers for Fr. Sheehy. You can even reach out to him via email or twitter to offer him encouragement. Yet, the experience has brought to mind the words of the Lord about the end, when many will abandon true faith in the living God to pursue earthly fancies. It also provided clarity, that the line between good and evil is no longer blurry. People are busy taking sides, and no one can any longer sit on the fence or  straddle along. You are either for Christ or you are not.  

You’d have noticed from today’s readings references to the end and the Second Coming. Those who know that the liturgical year has 34 Sundays and that today is the 33rd Sunday won’t be surprised that the Church is presenting to us the theme of the Second coming. We’re not to idle our time away like the Thessalonians whom Paul sternly admonishes in the second reading. We cannot afford the luxury of minding everybody’s business but our own. We have no other option, as we witness the loss of faith by those who should guide others. We must gird our loins for what faces us. Now is the time to become increasingly focused and intentional about our faith in Christ; and not wait for someone—even a priest, bishop or pope—for guidance. You have to decide to be intentional Catholics or “nones;” children of the kingdom or of the blindly innocuous world; a counter-cultural people or people who have no morals; and most importantly, a force for good in our society rather than its collapse.

In the Gospel, Jesus asks us not to get flustered, distraught or full of anxiety, like those who mindlessly refuse to commit their lives to the kingdom. As persecution from the world is ominous, we have rich opportunities to become witnesses. It’s no longer just the early Christians to whom today’s message is addressed; they’ve had their share of persecution. The words: “You’ll be delivered up to those who will kill you for being faithful” was heard by all the early Church martyrs, but also by Oscar Romero, by Maximilian Kolbe, by the Coptic martyrs of Egypt, by Fr. Jacques Hamel, and by you and me. Those words are addressed to all who throughout the ages suffered for their faith and would continue to so suffer. When you are mocked by the media and the twitter-army for hanging on to what they present as a dated morality, you are part of the persecuted Church. When you hold on to the traditional family values and prefer responsibility over the forces that deify selfishness and self-gratification, you are a member of the persecuted Church. You will even suffer and be treated with scorn for telling your 19-year-old daughter that it isn’t right for her to move in with Tom without the benefit of marriage. You’ll be told that you have “archaic morals;” but that’s part of the persecution you’ll face for being a child of the kingdom.

The Lord’s promise that “through patient endurance, you’re saving your life” (Lk 21:19) should gladden your heart; for, according to Barclay, “a prison can be like a palace, a scaffold like a throne, the storms of life like summer weather, when Christ is with us.”

Fr. Chukwudi Jo Okonkwo


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