XXXIII SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (NOVEMBER 17)
Mal 3:19-20a Ps 98:5-9 2Tes 3:7-12 Lk 21: 5-19
The spiritual life is a continuous internal and external struggle. No one, in this world, can free himself from pain and death, sometimes due to physical, psychological and moral illness, and at other times, to external accidents or to other human beings, who, pursuing their petty interests, inflict suffering and even death on their neighbor. The spiritual life is not for the wicked nor is it for the perverse who are—Malachi affirms—as the stubble to be burned. But neither is the spiritual life for the lukewarm, occupied, as St. Paul tells us, with not doing anything. This “not doing anything” refers to the mediocre response to the grace, that results from allowing oneself to be led by one’s own desires, by an environment of immorality. This sluggish attitude leads progressively to the depersonalization of the Christian who ends up justifying to himself and to others all kinds of personal and social behaviors. Different is the attitude of the person who aspires to be a saint, of the person who knows he cannot aspire anything less than sanctity because we have all been called to this state, or at least to attempt it. The saint or the person who loves the spiritual life is illuminated by grace because he gives example, as St. Paul says, by working and tiring himself night and day for love of Christ and by suffering sicknesses, persecution and martyrdom for the Gospel. Why does God permit that some human beings inflict harm to their neighbor, that there be suffering, calamnities of every kind—earthquakes, accidets, diseases...—? Why does he also allow that we may suffer persecution, betrayal, even by our closest associates? Christ gives us the precise response: I allow it so that “you may have an opportunity to give testimony of my name,” so that you can see that “not one hair from your head will be lost,” so that “by your perseverance you may save your souls.” Two attitudes, then, may be taken in the light of Christ’s call: the complaints and egoistical evasions of the non-saint; and the acceptance and loving effort of the saint.