The end of times

33rd Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year C

We are approaching the end of the Liturgical Year. The Church has its own calendar, which starts on the first Sunday of Advent and ends with the feast of Christ the King. In fact, coming Sunday, we will celebrate the feast of Christ our King, and King of all creation. During these days, the Church presents us with readings which help us reflect on the fact that we are not made for this world, but for eternal life with God. However, this is not something which is automatic, it depends on how we lived. This reading may surprise us and make us anxious and ready to give up. However, if we stop to reflect on it, we see that it is a reading which gives us hope. We are called to always trust God. We were created for him, and we will return to him. The reading encourages us to continue with what is good and allow God to lead us and influence our decisions. The Gospel is an invitation to look at our way of life, and judge whether we are living as sons and daughters of God, and witnesses of his love and mercy.

When this Gospel was being written, terrible things were happening and many thought that the end of the world was near. At times, we have people or groups of people, predicting that the end of the world is near. However, to date, these predictions have fallen through. This is what Jesus is telling us. No one knows or will know when the end of the world will happen. In truth, the end of the world, for each one of us, is when we die and we do not know when this will happen either. This is why, Jesus asks us to be prepared. 

It could be that when we hear or read this passage about “powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky,” we may think that this not relevant to us. This Gospel is not to be taken literally. Who has not passed through or is passing through difficult times or conflict? Suffering brings us to our knees and leaves us helpless. Jesus is asking us, whom do we seek in such situations? Jesus wants us to remember that if we trust in him, there is no reason for us to be worried, “you are not to prepare your defence beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”

Life in Christ is not without difficulties and conflict; faith and trust in God help us to face these situations. As parents, you are also responsible to help the children to learn to trust in God. The children too, face difficult situations, with their friends, in their studies, with their families, they may become concerned on hearing about ill health and ugly events on the news. As adults, you need to help them develop their belief that God is always with them, and God will never leave them on their own.

A reading from the Gospel of Luke (Lk 21, 5-19) 

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here– the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” 

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defence beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. Reflect on what the Gospel story is saying to you. Which points would you highlight and why?
  3. In the Gospel we read that the temple “was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings.” The temple was very important for the Jews. Their life centred around the temple. Therefore, they were shocked when Jesus said that this majestic building would fall. What is important for you? What is the focus of your life? What place does Jesus have in your life?
  4. What witness are your giving your children in difficult times? Whom do you turn to? Can the children see that you believe and depend on God?
  5. Together with your family find the right time to read this Gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare;
    i. The Bible reading from St Luke (21, 5-19)
    ii. A candle
    iii. Cover the table with a green cloth
    v. A computer/laptop with the readings and clips
  6. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested).
  7. Feel free to adapt to your situation
  8. Be creative 😊 

Have you ever been sad? Have you ever felt afraid? Today, Jesus is telling us that everyone, at one time or another, passes from a time of sadness, loneliness, or a feeling that everything is going wrong. Jesus wants us to believe, because it is the truth, that God is always with us. Let us listen to today’s Gospel. 

  • God takes care of us and is with us, in good and in bad times
  • Printout of the clockface, on construction paper
  • Colours
  • Scissors
  • Butterfly clip
  • Blocks 

Today’s reading is rather difficult to understand! Most probably even those listening to Jesus, did not understand exactly what he was telling them. Jesus spoke about terrible things, which were to happen, and those who heard him, were scared. The friends of Jesus had a beautiful and strongly built temple (like our churches).

On the table, build a temple with the blocks you have. Make it as strong as possible and as high as you can, so that you use all the blocks. If you blow, will it fall? Most probably it will not, because you have made it strong. However, what will happen if you shake the table? Although you made it as strong as possible, when you moved the table, it fell. This is what Jesus said. He foretold that the temple, which the Jews admired so much, would one day fall. When they heard Jesus’ words, they were scared. 

There are things which frighten us and bother us. When we are afraid or sad, we are not happy and Jesus does not want this. Jesus wants us to be happy. When we are scared or sad, we sometimes also feel lonely. This is why Jesus wants us to believe that God is always with us. It is true, that we cannot see God, however Jesus told us that God is always near us. He is seeing us, he takes care of us, he listens to us, when we speak to him. God loves us. Yet, God knows that we cannot see or hear him. For this reason, he sent people like mummy, daddy, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends, to love us and care for us. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that when we are afraid or sad, he will help us; for example, mummy or someone else will come near us and comfort us when we are sad. Jesus also tells us not to trouble ourselves about what will happen tomorrow or next week, we only need to care about what is happening now. 

The clock you have for today’s activity, will help you remember that God is always with you. This clock will not be used to read the time, but to remind us that God is with us. God is with us when we are asleep, when we eat, when we are with our friends, when we are happy, sad or scared. God is with us, all the time and everywhere. With the help of an adult, cut out the clock and the arms, and colour them. Your parents will make a small hole in the centre of the clock and in the arms. Insert the butterfly clip. Now the arms can go round, to help you remember that no matter what time it is, God is near you. Where will you put the clock? In your room? In the kitchen? Put it in a place where you can see it, so that it reminds you, that you are never alone.

When you are ready, listen to, God is with me.

Sign of the Cross.

Lord God, we are so lucky that you never leave us on our own. How much you love us! You always take care of us. Help us to remember to talk to you when we are sad or alone, or when we are afraid. We want to pray for the sick children and for those who live in countries where there is a war, so that they too, will know that you love them, and you are near them. Amen.

In this Gospel, Jesus describes terrible scenes. Yet, he reminds us that God always takes care of us.

  • No matter what happens, no matter what we do, God is always with us
  • A small box with a lid
  • Wrapping paper
  • Decorations for the box
  • Glue
  • Scissors / cutting knife
  • Empty papers (A6 in size)
  • Pencils 

Can you remember some of the terrible things, that Jesus said will happen? (the temple would fall, wars, unrest, earthquakes, famine, illness, persecution, friends go against each other)

It could very well be, that none of these things are happening now, however you may be going through, or you went through a bad patch. Can you mention some bad things which happened to you or to someone you know? (illness, fighting with friends, parents lose their job, siblings or friends who abuse of drugs or some other substance, death of someone dear, a feeling that no one loves you, loneliness)

Although this Gospel looks like a sad passage, when St Luke wrote it, he wanted to deliver a message of hope. He wanted to remind the friends of Jesus, that although we encounter bad situations, we can be sure of one thing; that God is always with us. 

It is not easy to believe that God is with you, when you are going through difficult moments, and when you might feel alone. If God is not part of our life, we will not believe that he is with us, not even when we are happy. So how can we feel his presence when things go wrong? To increase our trust in God, we need to know him more. 

Do you have a pet dog? What do you do when you go abroad? With whom do you leave him? 

You leave your dog with someone you trust and whom you know will care for him. If you leave the dog with someone whom you do not know, you will be concerned, because you do not fully trust that person. This is what happens when it comes to trusting God. If we do not know God, we cannot trust him and know that he is with us. How can we get to know God more? (prayer, scripture reading, formation meetings)

Jesus’ promise was that God will always be with us. It was not, however, that if we trust God, all will go well. We will all face difficulties and bad moments irrespectively if we trust God or not. The difference is, that if we trust God, we can turn to him and know that he will help us. At the beginning of November, we celebrate the feast of all saints. The Church proposes to us the lives of these holy people to teach us by their example and to assist us along our journey of faith. Carlo Acutis for example, was a teen, and like you he loved meeting his friends, he loved adventure, he enjoyed using his computer. However, he got very sick and did not recover. This was surely a bad situation, as described by Jesus; the beautiful life of Carlo and all his dreams collapsed just as the temple which was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings. Faced with this situation, Carlo chose to trust God and he ‘persevered’ and was saved.

When we are afraid, or passing through a bad moment, we will not be happy. We cannot enjoy life. Jesus wants to help us. He wants us to share these moments with him. He promised us his help and the life of the saints shows us that Jesus truly keeps his promises. Therefore, today’s activity will help us open up to Jesus. You have a box with a lid. Cut a slit in the lid, wide enough for a paper to pass through. Wrap the box and decorate as you wish. Whilst preparing the box, listen to, God is always with us.

When the box is ready, you have some papers. On them (all will do this part, even parents) write your fears, your sorrows, what makes you anxious, the bad and difficult situations you are facing. When you are ready, fold the papers and put them in the box. Put this box on the prayer table. During this week, offer these situations to God, in your daily prayers. There is no need to open the box and read what is written, God knows what is in our hearts, what is written and what we are praying for. 

Sign of the Cross

Lord God, you know the difficult and bad situations we face, you know our thoughts, which are scary sometimes. We do not always remember that you are with us. Thank you for readings, like today’s, which remind us of your presence in our daily lives. Amen.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.