Friday, August 5, 2016

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

Like A Thief

Why did Jesus describe himself as a thief when he talked about his second coming? Why did he not compare himself to a thunder which suddenly strikes in the sky? He did compare himself to a lightning to describe the speed of his appearance. Why did he not compare himself to a sudden rain on a clear, sunny day? Why did he did not compare himself to a sudden earthquake or an accident which is totally unexpected? Why did he rather choose the image of a thief to describe his second coming?

In our Gospel reading we heard him say, "Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Here it is clear that Jesus compared his coming to that of a thief who comes at an hour we do not expect.

The reason why Jesus compared his coming to that of a thief for those who do not expect his coming is because he was and is like a thief for those who do not wait for him, for those who do not expect his coming.

A thief steals. He steals from those who are not aware of his presence. Jesus also steals from those who do not expect his coming. A thief steals valuables from us, our money or our appliances or anything that he can bring with him. Jesus steals the most valuable material possession we have: our time.

When Jesus comes to get us time stops for us. Our time has run out. We can no longer do what we want to do because there is no more time to do them. In the language of the classroom our time to study has ended. It is already examination time.  

There was a song written by James M. Black in 1893 entitled WHEN THE ROLL IS CALLED UP YONDER. It begins "When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more". Indeed a time will come when time shall be no more. This song has a lively melody sung by our separated brethren and some charismatic groups.

We can also say that Jesus by his coming steals us from time. He snatches us from this world of time. He transfers us to a world without time, where there is no more sun or moon which provides us with our present measure of time.

So there are two senses by which we can say that Jesus acts like a thief. He steals time from us and he also steals us from time. In both cases we are no longer in this world of time but in the world without time.

When will Jesus come? He does not tell the hour and day of his coming. But he tells us to be always prepared for his second coming.

There are some who think that it will be a long time before Jesus returns. There are others who say that Jesus will come very soon. Some Bible scholars say that the early Christians were wrong in thinking that Jesus would come in their lifetime. The article “The Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Setting the Record Straight” (  is a common example of the belief that the early Christians, especially Paul the Apostle, were wrong in thinking that Jesus would come back during their lifetime.  The logic is quite simple. They expected Jesus to come back during their lifetime. Jesus did not come. Therefore they had a wrong expectation.

The truth is that from the perspective of Jesus their attitude of expecting his return during their lifetime is the only proper Christian expectation of his return. Christians of all eras, whether in the first century or in the latest century, if they are to be faithful to the mind of Jesus have to expect his coming in their own lifetime. In fact we need to expect Jesus’ return always, every day, every minute of the day. That is what he meant when he said that we need to be watchful all the time.

Not only do we need to be always watchful for his second coming. We need to welcome him all the time. Peter even goes to say that we need to hasten his return (2 Peter 3:12) by doing what he told us to do during his physical absence, that is, announcing the good news of the kingdom to all we meet.

We are reminded of this future reality during the Mass. After the consecration we say, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

For those of us who watch always, who welcome and hasten Jesus' second coming he is not a thief. He is our lover, our bridegroom, the one whom we desire all our life. Surely he will lead us straight into the heavenly courts without passing the pains in purgatory. This is plenary indulgence at its best.

Let us pray the prayer of the early Christians as they waited for Jesus' second coming. Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Mara natha. Lord Jesus, come. Amen.

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