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    St. Mary's Parish
    211 Avenue O South
    Saskatoon, SK
    S7M 2R6

    Phone: 306 244 2983
    Fax: 306 242 6461

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    Saturday: 7pm
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    1pm Aboriginal Mass with Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
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    Sunday: 12:30-1pm (Guadalupe Parish)
    Sunday: 3-4pm in Spanish
    Wednesday: 6:30-7pm

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    8:30am to 12 Noon
    12:30pm to 4:00pm
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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Day of the Lord

By Fr. James M Donohue, C.R.

Many of the Hebrew (“Old”) Testament prophets warned that, because of the sinfulness of the people, there would be a period of purging before that final “Day of the Lord”. They even compared that suffering to the pangs that preceded birth. It was referred to at times as “the birth pangs of the Messiah”. Today’s readings focus on the painful aspects of “that day”.

The prophet Malachi shows us both dimensions of that future day. For the sinful, it will be a day of fiery purgation; for the righteous, it will be a day of healing. In fact, the message for the righteous is one that encourages hope at the end of time: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings”. Reginald H. Fuller points out that in his well-known Christmas hymn, Charles Wesley applied these words to the birth of Christ:

Risen with healing in his wings

Light and life to all he brings,

Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Interpreting this passage within a Christian context strikes two notes of interest that will preoccupy us over the next few weeks in the liturgy: the last judgment and the coming of Christ in his nativity (Preaching the New Lectionary [Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1974: 94]). Both events inspire joy and hope for those who are living upright and honourable lives.

The early Christians believed, as did St. Paul, that after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus would return and bring things to completion. Some, influenced by an early form of Gnosticism**, felt that since the day of fulfillment had already happened with the coming of Jesus, all they had to do was to wait for his return. Since they thought that they were in “heaven already,” the curse of work (Genesis 3) had been removed. They could, therefore, eat, drink, and be merry (Fuller 95). It is this attitude that St. Paul writes about in today’s Second Reading. His point is that Christians must assume their fair share of responsibility in this world as they await the final dawning. Being a Christian, in St. Paul’s eyes, is to be pro-active – to give living witness to the values one professes and believes.

The Gospel reading is quite explicit about the suffering that will take place. It is probable that the descriptions there were meant to inspire believers to derive whatever good they can from life’s inevitable suffering, and to remain faithful during suffering. The predictions of persecutions are genuine warnings of Jesus that Luke’s “second volume,” the Acts of the Apostles, will describe, especially in the life of St. Paul. The promise of divine assistance that Jesus makes to his disciples in their time of trial reflects the original promise of Jesus of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Fuller 96), which will be bestowed upon the disciples in the Pentecost event (Acts 2:1-13). Contrary to what many believe, these descriptions of suffering were never meant to point to specific historical occurrences: they are not blueprints of what is happening in the world today. They were meant to be spurs or warnings to encourage us to persevere and thereby secure our lives, as we await the Day of the Lord.



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