17 Nov – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Triumph of God
The day is coming when all that is evil will be brought to nothing. Already Christ has given us the strength to overcome evil: we receive it in the Eucharist.
– The Sunday Missal
The day is coming now, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and the evil-doers will be like stubble. The day that is coming is going to burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts, leaving them neither root nor stalk. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
You know how you are supposed to imitate us: now we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we ever have our meals at anyone’s table without paying for them; no, we worked night and day, slaving and straining, so as not to be a burden on any of you. This was not because we had no right to be, but in order to make ourselves an example for you to follow.
We gave you a rule when we were with you: do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with everyone else’s. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we order and call on people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat.
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’
By your perseverance you will secure your lives
According to the online Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of perseverance (noun) is “the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult.” Further – “it is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”. For me, the person who jumps to mind when I think about these traits is Jeremy Lin. For those who don’t know of Lin, he is an Asian American basketball player who after numerous setbacks and at serious risk of being let go by his team, led the New York Knicks to a seven game winning streak in February 2012. Lin’s on-court accomplishments reinvigorated the lackluster Knicks’ 2012 season (they had lost 11 of their last 13 games going into February 2012) and set the stage for “Linsanity” to spread around the world.
In August 2012, I was fortunate enough to take my family to watch Jeremy Lin in action in Hong Kong. He wasn’t here to play basketball, although that would have been a real treat to see, but was in town to give his personal testimony to an audience of over 10,000 people. Lin, a deeply committed Christian, openly shared his faith and admitted that the temptations of worldly success were creeping into his heart as his fame grew.
I (was) slowly losing my happiness. Too focused on getting good stats, winning games and living up to this Linsanity stuff. I just need to play for God and not everyone else. There was a change in my heart from playing for God to playing for other people. And the end result was an emptiness and loss of joy. I was in the midst of one of the most, if not the most, miraculous seasons in NBA history. And I’m sitting there feeling empty, upset and with no joy. This is when I realized how empty the things of this world could be.
I’ve been to the top of the mountain and the top of the world… and it wasn’t enough. I had my dream come true. Actually I have a lot more than I could ever dream of. And it still wasn’t enough. I have the best education. And in my eyes I have the best job. I have more money than I could ever dreamed of. I have what the world calls a ‘perfect life’. But I’m not satisfied at all. Now I want to win a championship. If I win that one championship, I want that second one. No matter how well I play in any one game, I’m going to want to play well in my next game. If I live like this, if I base my identity on how well I do or how much stuff I have – I will never ever be satisfied. If you chase the things of this world, you will never ever be satisfied.
Later on in his testimony he states –
I know what it’s like to have everything, or almost everything that this world has to offer. And it’s nothing compared to a relationship with God. (Jeremy Lin speaking at the Hong Kong AsiaWorld Expo on August 26, 2012; http://www.hkmbc.org.hk/jeremylin/green_hall.html)
Lin missed the last three weeks of the 2012 basketball season after opting for surgery to repair a tear in his left knee. It probably gave him time to reflect on all that was happening in his life and deepen his perspective on his role in God’s kingdom. He subsequently spent the month of August 2012 traveling between Taiwan, Hong Kong and China recounting his story and sharing with people the real reason behind Linsanity… a calling from God to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Lin’s meteoric rise to stardom was not as result of his perseverance, hard work or natural abilities – but God’s will.
To me – Jeremy Lin isn’t *just* a basketball player who happens to be comfortable about sharing his faith to those around him. He’s like the apostle Paul, who was called by Christ to spread the message while using his vocation (Paul as a tentmaker and Lin as a basketball player) to access people and cross borders they otherwise wouldn’t normally have been able to. It’s their faith and perseverance in God that makes them true superstars.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father – we praise and thank you for the messengers that you send who serve as role models in our Christian walk. Whether they be superstars or underdogs, give them the strength to persevere through the hardships and temptations of this worldly existence and righteously deliver the good news to all those they come in contact with.
Prayer : We pray that the Holy Spirit continues to fill us up with the conviction to be effective everyday ambassadors to the people in our own workplaces, homes, churches and schools. Help us to be the salt and light in our communities so that we too may be able to glorify Jesus Christ – our personal Lord and savior.