daily biblical sermons

Both the Church and the world are moving ever farther from the gospel, as the Lord's return approaches
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, the 33rd Sunday of the Year, November 17, 2019
Malachi 3:19-20a, Psalm 97, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12, Luke 21:5-19


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:12b-15).



Before the feast of Christ the King was made the final Sunday of the year, this Sunday, the 33rd Sunday of the year, was the last Sunday of the liturgical year, and it was always about the end of the world and the second coming of Christ, the final consummation of God’s plan of salvation. Even though today is the second to last Sunday of the year, nonetheless in the liturgy of the divine office and of the Mass during these last two weeks of the liturgical year our focus is very much turned toward the last things, namely the end of this age and the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in power and great glory on the clouds of heaven.



This is a hopeful message, but it is also couched in terrifying terms, as we see in today’s gospel, which is about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. The destruction of Jerusalem is a preview and foretaste of what will happen at the end of the world. Often we think of the final end of history as a glorious time, which it will indeed be, but we sometimes forget that up until then there will be conflicts, wars, and persecutions. Jesus is warning us today not to expect an easy ride as people of faith, for we will indeed be persecuted, for “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony” (Luke 21:10-13).



Then, just before the final glorious coming of the Lord, “there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding at what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26). But then the glorious end will come, and “they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:27-28).



So what are we to do during these times in which we are now living? There are wars and persecutions of Christians in various places. Even in the Church itself we are in a state of crisis, for the heresy of Modernism is once again raising its ugly head, and the most basic teachings of Christian morality, as taught in the Scriptures, are being overthrown by the highest leaders of the Church today who are falsely telling us that God is so merciful that if he sees some people in difficult life situations, he will reveal in their heart and conscience a new custom-made moral law, tailor-made just for them, telling them to break his biblically revealed moral law and live in constant deadly sin, because it would be too difficult for them to keep his biblically revealed moral law. This is the mercy heresy that is wreaking havoc in the Catholic Church today. According to this heresy, God in his mercy will not consider the sins of these people living in difficult life situations as sinful, but rather as acts of virtue, since they are doing his will, for God himself, they falsely say, is the one who is revealing in their conscience their own personal moral law that is telling them to commit these sins, for that will be easier for them, since his biblically revealed moral law would be too difficult for them.



So anyone who preaches the truth about morality, especially sexual morality, as God has revealed it in a normative way in the Scriptures, will be persecuted as intolerant of cultural and religious diversity and of different lifestyles. So everywhere we look today on the news, on the computer, we see politicians and parades proclaiming that homosexual acts are good, that homosexual civil unions and “marriages” are to be tolerated and accepted, and that fornication, cohabitation, divorce and remarriage from a valid marriage during the lifetime of your original spouse is an acceptable Christian lifestyles, and that the Church has to be renewed and brought up-to-date by accommodating itself to the new values of the world today. Christianity, they falsely say, must no longer be against the world and its false moral values, but rather follow these false moral values, for they falsely say that the God of surprises is revealing new things in the world today that contradict the old-fashioned book of the Scriptures, and that we shouldn’t be bound to the biblical moral code.



According to this Modernist heresy, the same religious words are often used, like “evangelization,” but they are given a completely new meaning, so that when the Modernist speaks about evangelization, he doesn’t mean preaching the death of Christ as the saving act whereby the Son of God makes reparation for our sins, suffering our death penalty for them for us as our substitute so that when we put our faith in him and genuinely repent and intend to amend our life, God will declare us ungodly sinners righteous. The Modernist does not believe that it is important to preach the gospel so that people everywhere can know what God has done for the world in his Son and can receive this salvation by putting their faith in Christ. No, the Modernist does not believe in the redemption or in the atonement that Christ’s death makes for our sins, since for the Modernist there is no need for redemption, for God is all merciful and not concerned at all about justice and the just punishment of sins.



So what does the Modernist mean by evangelization? Well, he means helping non-Christians to love and value their own native culture and pagan religion and even continue to engage in open idolatry, bowing down before and worshiping false gods and idols and incorporating this into the liturgy of the Mass, as we have been horrified to see on TV and YouTube during the month of October at the Vatican Amazon Synod in Rome. So it seems that evangelization today for the Modernist does not mean communicating a saving message revealed by God through Christ, but rather being evangelized by learning, appreciating, preserving, and fully participating in the local pagan religions and cultures, even to the point of open idolatry, so that the evangelizers (Christian missionaries) become the evangelized, and the evangelized (the non-Christian peoples) become the evangelizers.



So we must be realistic when we look forward to the coming of the Lord, for when we look around us, we see that Jesus’ prophecies fit our present life situation, for terrible things are happening in the secular world around us that is becoming more and more perverted and alienated from Christian moral teaching and practice, especially in the area of sexual morality. The result is that Christians who are genuinely preaching the gospel as Jesus and the apostles preached it are being more and more marginalized, mocked, and laughed at as culturally and religiously intolerant of idolatry and openly pagan moral values and religious practices.



So as we approach the end of the world, what should we expect? Jesus tells us today, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:17-19). What does Jesus mean by “not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:18)? Didn’t he just say, “Some of you will be put to death” (Luke 21:16)? Yes, some will even be put to death, yet “not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:18-19). This means that even if our lives are taken from us for witnessing to the truth of God’s normative biblically revealed moral law and doctrinal teaching, we will be saved, for no one can separate us from the love of God in our heart, and we will inherit eternal life.



So Jesus is telling us to be prepared, for difficult times are upon us. We are living in them now, even within the Church, for the smoke of Satan has indeed entered into the sanctuary in our day, as St. Pope Paul VI prophesied, for the Church is now filled with Modernist prelates. These are, therefore, days of combat for faithful Christians who really believe and preach what the Scriptures teach.



We should also keep guard over ourselves, lest we be tempted and led astray, as Jesus says, “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35).



So what should we do? We should be watchful of ourselves, of our way of life, of our words, and of our preaching so that we might be true witnesses of Jesus Christ and his gospel in a world that is moving ever farther away from him. Therefore “watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).


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