“Faithful people of God” by Richard Ebejer SDB

“Faithful people of God”                                                                                           Reflection for 33 Sunday

We are coming close to the end of the Liturgical year and that means that we are also coming close to the end of the Jubilee year of Mercy, when   next Sunday, feast of Christ the King, the Holy Door in the basilica of St Peter’s is closed.

This Sunday’s Gospel also speaks to us about endings, and it may not be so encouraging to hear at first; Jesus speaks of the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem itself, but he goes even further and talks of  persecutions and tribulations to come. It is easy to think that Jesus was referring to our very own times, when he speaks of earthquakes and strife between nations, for indeed, violence has featured a lot in international news in recent years, with so many people suffering the ravages of war.

Bible scholars tell us that Luke was writing his gospel in a time of persecution when Christians were indeed being dragged to the synagogue and prisons and brought before kings and governors, even at the hands of relatives and friends. It was written at a time of social, political and religious upheaval which ended up with the destruction of the Holy Temple and of Jerusalem itself.

Jesus’ words were addressed to the people of his own time who had become complacent, who thought that things will never ever change, and rested on the false security of their comfort. But these words are also being addressed to us, when we do become complacent and think that what is happening in other places, can never happen to us, and we try desperately to protect ourselves from any obligation to help.

Pope Francis is a man of many gestures showing his support for those on the periphery; but he is also very vocal and he has spoken out clearly for the need to change our approach; recently he said that we are not living in an era of change, but that we are witnessing the change of an era. And he said the Church herself must change; and become a beacon of solidarity and mercy; if we lose our closeness to the faithful people of God, he says, we lose living out a humble, generous and joyful Christianity.

As this year of mercy soon comes to an end, we can see how much it has been a message of reassurance for so many people, for we too are also living in turbulent times. Throughout this year, Pope Francis has spoken about one central theme: God’s mercy, and he has helped us gaze on the merciful face of God. He invites us to bring this message with the world, by our own acts of mercy towards all.