Malachi 3:19-20, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12, Luke 21:5-19
Despite the Darkest Moments
Readings: 1st: Malachi 3:19-20; Ps: 97, 5-7; 2nd: 2 Thessallonians 3:7-12; Gospel Luke 21:5-19.
The darkest moments are those times of extreme tribulation and afflictions. They are moments in time which are marked by extreme tragedy or misfortune. The darkest moments are those times when it seems all hope is lost and when every person has forsaken you.
The darkest moment is a moment of afflictions, suffering and great misfortune. They are those times you pray and it seems God is not answering your prayer. Many Christians today are in their darkest moments.
Today is the thirty-third Sunday of ordinary time, a few days to the end of the liturgical calendar year C, the readings of this Sunday point to “the end of time” and our victory in Christ on the last day. The day would be the darkest moment but there is victory at last still.
The readings reveal the intense suffering and tribulations awaiting every child of God. For example, in the gospel, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem as well as other forms of destruction that will befall His disciples in the time to come.
In this coming time, many Christians would undergo intense persecution. They will go through moments of the dark.
Hence, notwithstanding the pains and sufferings, the righteous may undergo, there is always victory at last for the children of God.
The readings of today possess an eschatological character. It tells us what we would expect in the last days.
The readings portray the times leading to the last day as scary, harsh and retributive, but that notwithstanding, the readings also emphasized how victory can be achieved at last.
Therefore, despite the darkest moments, despite the pains and tribulations, It will still be a victory at last for the children of God.
Therefore, there is hope even in the greatest affliction. Today, we look at the dark side of life but with new hope, for we know in two weeks Advent begins.
Therefore, what the readings are telling us is that, despite the darkest moments, a time of victory must come. We live in hope and not in despair. We live in faith and not in faithlessness.
The Day is Coming.
The first reading talks about the day that is coming when all the evildoers, the wicked and the arrogant will burn like a furnace. To understand the reason for this statement we have to analyze the background of today’s first reading.
This particular book of the Prophet Malachi was written after the Jewish people returned from the Babylonian Exile and rebuilt the temple (Malachi 1:10).
At that time, it was as if the wicked are having blessed days while the righteous or those who keep the law are suffering. Because of this, some people begin to think that God has forsaken them, so they begin to complain.
2. Therefore, from verse 14 of this chapter, through the Prophet Malachi, God reminds the people what they have said. Some of them complain that “It is in vain to serve God.
Then, some of them asked, “What profit is it that they have followed God’s instructions?” (Malachi 3:14). They complained that those who work wickedness are built up; yes, they tempt God, and escape” (Malachi 3:15).
Therefore, from verses 16 and 17, God reminds the people that they are not forsaken. He says “They shall be mine, my special possession”.
He has not forsaken His own, and on the day that He will act, He will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them. It is then that they shall see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
3. So, those verses leading into our First Reading, describe how the Lord will treat the wicked and the righteous. It also describes how God has not forsaken His children even in the darkest moments.
4. Therefore, it is not that the Righteous are forsaken, they may be suffering now, but a time shall come when the Lord will remember them.
Then, they will know that God is still with them. In essence, there must be Victory at last for the Children of God despite the tribulations of the moment.
5. However, It does not also mean that God is not taking into account the deeds of the wicked. The day is coming now, when all the arrogant, the wicked and the evil-doers will be like stubble.
Stubble is the short stalks which are left standing in fields after corn or wheat has been cut. In essence, this day will see the victory at last for the righteous and the destruction and downfall of the wicked.
6. According to the first reading, this day will be like a burning furnace to burn them up, leaving them neither root nor stalk. But for those who fear His name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.
This gives hope to all the children of God who think God has forsaken them. The point is that this is what we think. It is not what God thinks.
God has not forsaken anyone, therefore, a time shall come when the children of God will experience victory despite the darkest moments.
Signs of the End Times
In the gospel, Jesus talks about the end times and how frightening they would be. In essence, the end would not be easy for the children of God.
So, in the gospel, the disciples were talking about the temple and how it was decorated with beautiful stones and gifts. This temple was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings.
While they were busy discussing how beautiful the temple is, Jesus said to them that all these things they are staring at now, the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another.
Therefore, a time shall come when everything will be destroyed.’ And they asked him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
In answer to this question, Jesus begins to tell them what they would expect at the time of the end times. Therefore, they have to prepare for the end. As we enjoy this life, we do not lose sight that one day, the end will come. There is also an end time.
According to Jesus, these are the signs of the end time:
1. It will be a time of Fake Prophets. Jesus warns his disciples not to be deceived because, during this time, many people will claim to be the Messiah. They will say I am he”.
Some will come using the name of the Lord to deceive people. Jesus warns against those who claim to be the Jesus of time. This is already happening.
Now, many people will tell you, go to this person, he does or that. No one has the power to do anything. We are mere instruments that God uses.
2. It will be a time of wars and revolutions and natural disasters. Jesus tells his disciples “when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’
Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
3. It will be a time of great persecution. Jesus tells his disciples that during this time, men will seize them and persecute them.
Therefore, it will be a time of great persecution, a time of suffering and a time of tears. At that time many people would be imprisoned and tortured.
At that time many people will suffer great tribulation and betrayal even from parents and brothers, relations and friends.
Also, Jesus says that His disciples will be hated by all men on account of His name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Also, during this time, many people will be put to death.
What this means is that Christianity is not only about glory. It is not only about testimonies and the crown. There is also a time of tears, pains, difficulties, hatred, and betrayal from your trusted friends. There will be a time when every person will forsake you. You must encounter a time of the dark.
A Time of Salvation shall Come.
Despite the darkest times, Jesus gives us hope. He says to the disciples today “when they bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I shall give you eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict”.
Therefore, Jesus assures His disciples of His ever-abiding presence, and wisdom in the time of tribulation. He says to them that despite the hatred, persecution and suffering, not a hair of their head will be lost.
What it means is that everything has its own time. There is a time of the cross and a time of the crown. There is a time of tears and a time of joy.
Therefore, when we are in the darkest times, let us not forget that one day, the darkest time will lead to the earliest morning. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. One day, every sadness shall come to pass.
Therefore, God is with us even when we think He is not with us. When we are undergoing the darkest times, He has not forsaken us.
As God promises in the first reading, the darkest moments do not mean that God is keeping a blind eye to our situations. He gives us the wisdom to go through the valley of the shadow of darkness. He is always there with us both in the day and the dark.
Nothing on Earth Lasts Forever.
In the gospel, When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’
This is the third temple. Solomon built the first temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.
So, when the Jews returned from their captivity in Babylon, they built the second temple, though inferior to the original temple.
During the time of Herod, he tore down that temple in 20 B.C. to make room for his temple, which is now the one that the disciples admire here.
The temple was under construction for almost forty-six years (John 2:20). It was highly magnificent.
The point is that the disciples were held spellbound by the beauty of this edifice but Jesus did not join in the bouquet of praises nor join in singing Herod’s praises but speaks sternly about the last day which will also witness the destruction of the temple and disappearance.
Therefore, the beauty that they now admire will one day vanish into thin air.
It is not that the temple is not important, but here Jesus inadvertently warns that they should not lose sight of the end still.
It means that whatever we crave in this world will one day come to an end. Therefore, we should not lose sight of the end. We should not lose sight that nothing on earth lasts forever.
Therefore, whatever we fight to have and build will one day vanish. Despite how magnificent, powerful, beautiful, handsome, and wealthy we are, everything has an expiry date.
Therefore, as we build and focus on the material things, let us not also lose sight that these things we struggle to have will vanish before us. Nothing on earth lasts forever. So, as, we adorn the external, we have to adorn the internal, which is our Soul.
The Way to Victory.
In the second reading, Paul encourages us to keep working hard. This is to earn both our earthly and heavenly living. The Church does not in any way encourage laziness or idleness.
Paul says that we must earn the food that we eat. Therefore, this food could be temporal or spiritual. Whatever we want to have in this world, we have to work for it. We have to earn it.
Therefore, we have to work our way even in the darkest moments. We do not have to be lazy and say after all we are suffering or after all, things are bad. No, we have to keep working, keep seeking and keep struggling until our light will shine.
In essence, we have to earn the salvation that we seek. We have to earn the success that we seek. We do not have to sleep away our times out because things are not moving well. If we need light, we have to work for the light.
2. Also, this is diligence in defence of the gospel; we keep working and fighting till the end. For Jesus promised that it is only through endurance that we can win our lives.
If faced with persecution and pain along the way, always know that Jesus did not promise the easy way for his disciples or that discipleship will be comfortable.
It is only through endurance that we will gain our souls. The way to victory is not always easy. Always know that nothing in this world lasts, everything has an expiring date.
He says in the gospel, “Your endurance will win you your lives”.
So, We have to endure if we are serious to meet the light at the end of the tunnel.
1. As the disciples are admiring the beauty of the temple, it is the same way we are so much proud of only our appearance, acquisitions and material possessions.
Jesus is letting us know that those things that we try to make a mouth with today, will one day expire.
Our beauty will expire, our acquisitions etc all must one day be a thing of the past but what will remain as it is, is the soul. But we always neglect the soul to focus only on the body.
Yet the body will one day pass away. We have to be proud of how pure, faithful and close we are to God and not only how adorned are our external appearances.
2. The disciples failed to see beyond the external to the internal. The disciples see the external adornment but fail to see the spiritual bankruptcy behind the facade.
They failed to see the hypocrisy, the oppression and the rejection of the Messiah by Herod.
Jesus stipulates that what matters mainly is internal and spiritual. What God wants from us is an internal adornment, total change of heart, and beauty of the soul, not pretence nor mere what eyes can see.
In the end, only those spiritually renewed will gain victory at last.
The things we think we crave, must one day go into extinction. Today many kill, kidnap and destroy to have earthly possessions; many go a very long way to possess all sorts of things to live, forgetting that there is an end for everyone and everything.
St Augustine says that in everything you do, do not forget your end. Secondly, what God sees is not how much we appear to be good or perfect but how good and perfect we are really.
3. In the First Reading of today from the Book of the prophet Malachi, the author addresses the perennial problem, namely, why do evil-doers prosper and the just suffer. What is the value of living a just and pious life when irreligious people look down on the observance of the law and yet prosper? These have always become questions that many people ask.
Hence, in the reading, we shall also dictate that it does not mean that God is overlooking our efforts. Or that God is blessing the wicked, No, rather God gives them time to repent. He also guides those close to Him during their darkest moments.
Hence, the Day of Judgment will be terrible for the evil-doers, but it will be a joy for the faithful. Therefore, let us not forget the day of judgement.
4. From these readings, what we shall observe is that there will be a time of great misfortune. There will be a time of great afflictions and suffering. Jesus does not, however, promise life without pain.
Therefore, as Christians, we do not expect only a time of glory. There is a time of pain and tears. This is your darkest moment. Jesus does not exonerate us from it. He says that the time must surely come.
Therefore, rather than promising an escape from hardship, Jesus offers spiritual resources to cope with it.
Therefore, our lives might seem catastrophic, but we need not fear that God has forsaken us. His divine plan will ultimately prevail even when it seems that every person has lost hope in you. The truth then remains that the righteous may suffer now, but there is always a joy at last.
5. In the gospel, Jesus gives the key to go through any darkest times. He says to the disciples “Your endurance will win you your lives.’”
Therefore, the way to victory favours only those who are willing to endure to the last. Victory awaits those who are willing to endure the pain now, those who didn’t lose their faith even in persecution.
When everything turns and fights against them, they remain strong and willing to continue moving. Even when everyone hates them because of their strong faith in God, they keep loving God.
They are those who even in the darkest moments keep praying, working, seeking and finding a way to see light at the end of the tunnel.
In the end, only the good and those who endured paying the price will win the prize. Only those who seek the light will find the light.
Therefore, the darkest times are not the end. Do not give up in the dark. The time of morning may come even a few minutes after you just gave up. Let us Always know that there is always victory at last for the children of God.
Therefore, despite the darkest moments, there is always victory at the end.
May God grant you perfect Victory in the time of affliction. Amen