Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

“The end of all things,” is not something we need to fear.  In the vision of God, the end is also always the beginning.  By His Words, Jesus is able to destroy what is earthly and lay bare the bases of our heart.  How have we built our lives?  What criteria has been the ultimate deciding factor in our decisions?  When we are tested, how do we respond?  The Lord has not created us to crumple in fear, He has not created us so that our weakness might be our downfall.  The Lord’s Words to us are sometimes a clear summons to stand firm in the face of evil, of sin, of temptation, and of confusion.  We may be afraid that we will not have what it takes to come out victorious.  We have seen great men fall: they have been beaten in battle, they have succumbed to the pressures of temptation and brought shame upon themselves and upon us all.  Great warriors and heroes of goodness have become slaves to their own passion and lust.

Even in our own lives we’ve experienced weakness and failure.  We thought we’d be able to finally become what we’re supposed to be and to get it right once and for all.  Even when we avoid the battles we shouldn’t be fighting, new and unexpected battles take us by surprise and catch us off guard.  Who can lead us into victory?  The one who could not even be beaten by death: Jesus.  He is the true source of our strength in battle, because He has already won the war.  Faith, hope, and love are the weapons and armor of a Christian who has the heart of a warrior.  No sword or shield of human origin could possibly withstand the crushing attack of evil which assails us every day – often in such sinister and hidden ways.  Only a heart firmly grounded in the Truth, the Truth of God, Jesus, can withstand and conquer.


As in its monthly eclipse, the moon, by reason of the earth coming between it and the sun, disappears from view, so likewise the holy church, when the vices of the flesh stand in the way of the celestial light, can no longer borrow the splendor of its divine light from the sun of Christ.… Also the stars, that is, leaders surrounded by the praise of their fellow Christians, shall fall, as the bitterness of persecution mounts up.1


When impious persecutors rage beyond measure, and when the fortune of this world seems to smile upon them and fear leaves them and they say: “Peace and security,” then the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall be moved, when many who seemed to shine brilliantly with grace will yield to the persecutors and will fall, and even the strongest of the faithful will be shaken.2

He came first in preaching, and filled the whole wide world. Let us not resist his first coming, that we may not tremble at his second.3


That he will gather his elect from the four winds means from the whole world. For Adam himself, as I have shown, signifies in Greek the whole world, with the four letters (A, D, A, M). As the Greeks think of these matters, the four quarters of the world have these initial letters, Anatole (east), Dysis (west), Arktos (north), and Mesembria (south). Adam after the fall has been scattered over the whole world. He was in one place, but fell, and as if crushed in tiny pieces, his progeny filled the whole world. But the mercy of God is gathering together the fragments from every side and is forging them together by the fire of love, and making one what was pulverized. That incomparable artist knew just how to do this. So let no one despair. This indeed is a great work of art. But reflect upon who the artist is. The very one who made shall restore. The one who formed shall reform. Where finally shall we come to know righteousness and truth? He will gather together his elect with him to the judgment, and the rest will be separated out.4


The summer signifies the end of the world, because at that time fruits are gathered up and stored.5


Nothing of this world is more durable than the heavens and the earth, and nothing in the order of nature passes away more quickly than speech. Words, as long as they are incomplete, are not yet words. Once completed they cease utterly to be. In fact they cannot be perfected except by their own passing away. Therefore he says: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass.” As if he were openly to say: all that seems to you enduring and unchangeable is not enduring and without change in eternity. And everything of mine that seems to pass away is enduring and without change. My speech, that seems to pass away, utters thoughts (sententiae manentes) which endure forever.6


“There shall be a time of trouble.” For at that time there shall be great trouble, such as has not been from the foundation of the world, when some in one way, and others in another, shall be sent through every city and country to destroy the faithful; and the saints shall travel forth from the west to the east and shall be driven in persecution from the east to the south, while others shall conceal themselves in the mountains and caves. And the abomination shall war against them everywhere, and shall cut them off by sea and by land by his decree and shall endeavor by every means to destroy them out of the world.7


The dead shall rise again, and they that are in the graves shall awake. They that have kept the commandments of Christ and have departed this life in the true faith shall inherit eternal life; and they that have died in their sins and have turned aside from the right faith shall go away into eternal punishment. Do not believe that there is any true being or kingdom of evil or suppose that it is without beginning, or self-originated or born of God—forget such an absurdity! But believe rather that it is the work of us and the devil, come on us through our inattentiveness, because we were endowed with free will, and we made our choice, of deliberate purpose, whether it be good or evil.8


Quick, flee from sin, think at once of death, for it is written, “The prudent person treats sin harshly, and the face of ascetics will shine like the sun.”9


Death … is entered on for a time and then … is put aside. He has shown, too, that the course of the life that is to be after death will be better than that which before death is passed in pain and sorrow. For the life after death is compared with the stars, while our life here is condemned to misery.10


But who are the enemies? All unbelievers.… And intimating the greatness of their subjection, he said not “subjected” but “put under his feet.” Let us not therefore be among the number of his enemies. For not they alone are enemies, the unbelievers and Jews, but those also who are full of unclean living. “For the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither can it be.” What then, you say? Carnality is not a ground of blame. Rather, it is very much a ground of blame. For the wicked person, as long as that one is wicked, cannot be subject to God’s law. That one can, however, change and become good. Let us then cast out carnal minds. But what is meant by carnal? Whatever injures the soul even while making the body flourish and do well, as, for instance, wealth, luxury, glory—all these things are of the flesh—carnal love. Let us not then love gain but ever follow after poverty, for this is a great good. But, you say, it makes one humble and of little account. True, for we have need of this, for it benefits us much. “Poverty,” it is said, “humbles a man.” And again Christ says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Do you then grieve because you are upon a path leading to virtue? Do you not know that this gives us great confidence?11


Now, this happened through the new covenant: we receive also in all-holy baptism the forgiveness of sins. In the life to come, when immortality is granted us, we shall live differently from everyone else, sin no longer capable of troubling those who have become immortal. May it be our good fortune to attain this life. We shall attain it if in the present life we embrace with enthusiasm the effort virtue involves and accept the struggles it requires. The Lord himself, who is the source of the future goods, will work with us.12


  1. COMMENTARY ON LUKE 10.  Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 177). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. LETTER 199, To HESYCHIUS 39.  Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (pp. 177–178). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. ON THE PSALMS 96.13.  Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 179). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. ON THE PSALMS 96.13.  Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 179). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. ON MATTHEW.  Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. HOMILIES 1.  Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. SCHOLIA ON DANIEL 12.1.  Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (p. 303). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  8. BARLAAM AND JOSEPH 19.164–65.  Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (p. 305). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  9. INSTRUCTIONS 1.32.  Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (pp. 306–307). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  10. ON HIS BROTHER SATYRUS 2.66.  Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (p. 307). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  11. ON THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS 18.3-4.  Heen, E. M., & Krey, P. D. W. (Eds.). (2005). Hebrews (pp. 157–158). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  12. INTERPRETATION OF HEBREWS 10.  Heen, E. M., & Krey, P. D. W. (Eds.). (2005). Hebrews (p. 158). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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