Thursday, 29 November 2018 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this say we heard the story of the downfall of two cities, that is of Babylon and Jerusalem, each from the Book of the Revelations and from the Gospel of St. Luke. In those stories, we heard of the fall of the great city of Babylon and how the Lord and His Angels and saints stood triumphant against the forces of the wicked. And then, similarly, in the Gospel, we heard of the downfall of Jerusalem as prophesied by the Lord Jesus.

In order to understand the meaning and purpose of these two passages, we must first understand the context and history in which these two references to two great cities took place in the minds of the people of God at that time. The city of Babylon and Jerusalem were both great cities of historical past, and were capitals of great kingdoms, the former one of the Babylonians, while the latter was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Israel, under kings David and Solomon.

The Babylonians were the archetype of the wicked after what they have done to the people of God and the kingdom of Israel and Judah, having not just ended the line of kings that were continued unbroken from David to the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, but also the destruction city of Jerusalem itself, considered the Holy City of God, because of the Temple built by Solomon containing the Ark of the Covenant as the tangible and real presence of God in the midst of His people.

Therefore, in the memory of the people of God, the city of Babylon, where the Babylonians ruled much of the then known world from, that city would naturally become a very hated and despicable place. And this reference of the place of evil and wickedness was likely the reason for the attribution of the city of Babylon in the story we heard today from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle.

That story was basically the promise of God’s salvation and liberation for His people, from the tyranny and oppression of the wicked, that the power of the wicked, no matter how powerful they may seem to be, will eventually be broken and the evil ones will be overthrown. This is symbolically represented by the downfall and destruction of Babylon, which will never rise again, showing to the people of God, the ultimate triumph over evil.

Similarly, and interestingly, is the choice of Jerusalem in the Lord’s prophecy over the city as we heard in the Gospel today. That is because the Lord lamented the attitude of the people of Israel, many of whom, especially the majority of their religious and secular leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the scribes and the teachers of the Law who refused to believe in the truth that the Lord was bringing them, and instead, just as their ancestors persecuted the prophets, those people persecuted the Lord and His disciples.

Thus, the downfall of Jerusalem kind of parallels the downfall of Babylon mentioned in the first reading, again with the understanding of the oppression of the faithful by the wicked and by those who refused to follow God. And with that, came persecutions and difficulties, challenges and many temptations to leave behind our faith and to embrace the seemingly easier and more acceptable path of the world.

But this is what the devil always planned in order to prevent us from ever being able to reach out to God’s salvation and grace. He is doing all that is within his power and ability to lure us mankind further and further away from God. We must resist his temptations and his efforts, and persevere through the challenges and difficulties, no matter how difficult it is. There will be moments when we will be tempted to give up, but we must always remember, that in God alone lies our only hope and true path to freedom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us now therefore turn towards the Lord and faithfully dedicate ourselves anew to serve Him and to be good witnesses of our faith. Let us grow ever stronger in our faith, and commit ourselves with ever greater courage and strength. May God bless us all and be with us, now and always. Amen.

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