The Coming Catastrophe

(Thirty-Third Sunday, Year C)

When I was in Peru, many people asked me about the Twin Towers. Even in remote mountain villages, folks identified with that embodiment of our world economy. The loss we endured on September 11 gives some inkling how first century Jews felt about the Temple. It not only represented their unity as a people, but also their relationship with God. Yet when Jesus heard people marvelling about its costly stones and beautiful adornments, he issued a famous prophecy: soon that magnificent structure would be utterly destroyed.

Before the hijackers attacked the World Trade Center, there were similar warnings. On November 30, 1998, Peggy Noonan wrote a columm predicting that kind of strike on Manhattan. Perhaps Jesus was similarly using his human shrewdness to analyze the social/political situation of his world. At any rate he had amazing foresight and he wanted his followers to be prepared.*

Nevertheless, Jesus was hardly a Jim Jones or David Koresh, instilling a fatal panic. Rather he calls us to a certain serenity. The great catastrophe will not come immediately. It will be preceeded by lesser ones: wars, earthquakes, famines and plagues. While for most of us those things happen at some distance, still they are telling us to get ready interiorly. Our present comfortable lifestyle will not last long.

How can one expect the worst and still remain serene? It seems an impossible paradox, but one of the serenest people I ever met is a guy who is always expecting the worst. He knows every silver lining contains a cloud and that it always seems darkest before it goes completely black. Yet he is marvellously peaceful and attentive to each person he deals with.

Jesus meant something like that for us: to not imagine we can burrow into a hole and escape imminent disaster which is the common fate of mankind. At the same time to recognize, if we are with him, we do not need to prepare a defense, that "not a hair on your head will be destroyed."


*Some consider this a vaticinium ex eventu (prophecy after the fact). However, if Luke invented this prophecy after 70 A.D. why would he have an imprecision: "there will not be left a stone upon another stone"? (Lk 21:6)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Thirty-Third Ordinary Sunday, Year A):

2014: Solidarity Week 3
2011: Small Things with Great Love
2008: Take a Step
2005: Time, Energy and Money
2002: The Great Escape
1999: An Attitude of Gratitude

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Sunday Homilies

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Fr. Brad's Homilies (well worth listening)

Report on Earthquake Relief to Sacuaya (October 22, 2001)

Bulletin (Come and See, Courage, Jason Evert)


Darwin's Dangerous Idea (reflection on PBS' Evolution Program)

Blaming Religion for Sept. 11

Parish Picture Album

(police investigation of bell stolen from parish, November 3)

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

Parish Picture Album


MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru