Tribulation Prophecies

Luke 21: 20-28
Dn 6:12-28 / Dn 3:68-74

There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
(Luke 21:25)

The endtimes will come with certainty,
Fearful days of great destruction.
The question is, how prepared are we
To face them with anticipation?

Jesus said, ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand. Those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are the days of punishment, when all that is written are fulfilled. Woe to those who are pregnant and nursing mothers in those days! For a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful vengeance upon this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Lk.21:20-24)
The Coming of the Son of Man
‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads, because your redemption is at hand.’ (Lk. 21:25-28)


In today’s Gospel reading of Luke, our Lord was making two separate prophecies: the first, in verses 20 to 24, is a repetition of his lament over Jerusalem as he was entering the city (in Luke 19:41-44). History shows this prophecy would be fulfilled in A.D. 66–73, about forty years after the death of Jesus, when the Roman armies under Titus, the son of Vespasian conquered Palestine and destroyed Jerusalem, slaughtering most of the Jews and bringing the captives as slaves back to Rome.

The second prophecy is obviously no longer about the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, but about “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” This second prophecy is for the benefit of all Christians – warning us to prepare for our Lord’s Second Coming to herald the Final Judgment. Again, (for emphasis), this is a repetition of His earlier prediction of the End Times (in Lk.21:7-11). “Signs in the sun, the moon and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves” evidently refer to nature’s cataclysmic phenomena as manifestations of the prophecy’s fulfillment. The past few years of this millennium have seen the occurrences of volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes, typhoons, droughts and famines in rapid succession all over the world. This last apocalypse is a consequence not only of drought, but by wars in Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria. And of course we are all aware of the current global warming phenomenon.

How did the early Christian community escape from the destruction and slaughter in Jerusalem? According to the church historian Eusebius (300 AD), the Christians fled Jerusalem before the war and escaped to Pella, a city across the Jordan River. They surely must have remembered Jesus’ prophecy, and acted accordingly. It would do well for us to follow their example, and ‘escape’ from our sins while there is still time. This is the message that Advent is conveying to us today. Please take heed.

Save us, Father God, from the impending destruction; protect us from the evil that will befall the world on the day of tribulation. This we pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Giving Witness

Luke 21: 12-19
Dn 5: 1-6,13-14,16-17,23-28 / Dn 3:62-67

This will result in your giving testimony to them.
(Luke 21:13)

Be prepared for “persecution”
When we are called to testify
To the Good News of salvation,
By which our Lord we glorify.

“Before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your giving testimony to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.” (Luke 21:12-19)


God allows that we go through trials and persecutions because He knows that these will lead us to give witness to our faith. The word “witness” is translated from the Greek word marturion, from which we get our English word “martyr”. The term means “he who serves as testimony or proof.” Thus, the early Christians were called martyrs not because of their persecution, but because of the testimony of their faith, for which they were willing to give up their lives. God allowed their trials to make them worthy of Himself, “As gold in the furnace, He proved them, and as sacrificial offerings He took them to Himself.” (Wisdom 3:6) It was Tertullian who said it so well: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.”

We are fortunate that we do not live during the age of Christian persecutions; nor in the present time when we have to prove our faith as other Christians do in places like Saudi Arabia or China, where the practice of one’s religion is strictly prohibited or regulated. But wherever we are, we are still called to give witness to our Lord Jesus, especially during times of personal turmoil, grief, or financial crisis. It is in times of extreme distress that true faith emerges.

All of us are called to give witness, or to share our life testimony about God’s miracle in our lives, especially those who are in the renewal. Many regard this as the modern version of the Christian persecution, because the greatest fear of most people is to stand at the podium in front of an audience. It will do them well to heed the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” (Lk.21:15) Yes, as we have heard in many a sharing, it is the Holy Spirit that speaks through us; we have nothing to fear.

Father God, in times when we are put to the test on account of Your Name, grant us the grace to be bold in our ministry. Renew our spirit that we might bring glory and honor to You. We pray for all those Christians who are suffering persecution and death for the sake of the Gospel. Empower them with Your Holy Spirit to persevere in their faith. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Signs of the Coming Apocalypse

Luke 21: 5-11
Dn 2:31-45 / Dn 3:57-61

They asked, “Teacher, when will these things happen?”
(Luke 21:7)

No stone upon a stone or throne
Can last on earth in God’s design,
Have faith upon God’s Word alone,
‘Twill stand until the end of time.

Some of the disciples were speaking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and votive offerings to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” They asked, “Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then He said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:5-11)


The message that the first reading from Daniel, and today’s Gospel imparts is: Nothing lasts forever on this earth. Not the most powerful kingdom, not the strongest temple, not even the greatest religion. Only the Word of God lasts until the end of time. The words that our Lord spoke were strange to the ears of His generation – but only because they were not meant only for them, but for all future generations to profit by. The irony is, they had the Savior in their midst, but they could not comprehend His words of salvation, while we– thousands of years later—can see clearly that Jesus Christ is the only hope of our eternal salvation.

Today’s Gospel of Luke and the First Reading (Daniel 2:31-45) also continue to speak about the coming apocalypse. We believe in these Holy Words of Scriptures because they are the Word of God Himself. Jesus’ prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70 prefigures the coming “end times”. There are signs that it has already begun, but many are still taking these dire warnings for granted, mindlessly continuing in their worldly ways. God’s Word bears no relevance for them.

We are fortunate who take the Word of God to heart, because He shows us how He continuously sanctifies our days. For instance, this was demonstrated to us in the “Catchfire” charismatic rally last Sunday, in celebration of the feast of Christ the King. Attended by almost a thousand members of four Catholic communities, the presence of the Holy Spirit was so powerful that many were driven to tears. Tears of joy, that is, moved by God’s love for all who attended, praising our King as one people. Like the responsorial psalm in today’s reading, (“All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever” – Dn.3:61), the venue of the prayer rally reverberated with joyful singing and praising. The main speaker of the rally, however, urged us not to be content to remain in God’s embrace, but to go out and spread the fire of the Spirit to “the wounded world outside”: the uncommitted, the complacent, and the unbelievers. In this spiritual warfare, we have to be bold soldiers of Christ to save souls for His kingdom.

We praise and thank You, Father God, for constantly keeping us aware of the coming “days of reckoning”, and our responsibility as members of Your kingdom to spread the Gospel to those who are still “of this world.” Grant us the courage and wisdom to be active in our chosen mission field, ever mindful in following Your will. Amen.

The Gift of Giving

Luke 21: 1-4
Dn 1:1-6,8-20/ Dn 3:52-56

While Jesus watched the wealthy bringing their offerings into the temple treasury, He noticed a poor widow go up to the treasury to put in two small coins.
(Luke 21: 1)

To those who practice charity,
God’s blessings flow abundantly;
With grateful hearts let’s strive to be
God’s gifts of generosity

While Jesus watched the wealthy bringing their offerings into the temple treasury, He noticed a poor widow go up to the treasury to put in two small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their surplus wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)


The widow’s contribution demonstrates the lesson that our Lord is imparting, that it is not so much what we give that counts, but what we are willing to give up. It is the spirit behind our giving that gives our gift its worth. There are two reasons we can think of why the widow decided to part with her last two coins. The first is out of gratitude. In spite of her poverty, she wanted to express her gratitude to God for some blessing(s) that she might have received. Those who have less in life seem to have more in wisdom. This is God’s justice. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:3) Which points to the other reason– her strong faith. She firmly believed that by giving everything to God, He would surely reciprocate her sacrifice by giving back to her ten times or even more than what she had surrendered. She had complete faith in God’s providence and generosity.

Today’s Gospel of Luke teaches us several things about the gift of giving. The first is, it doesn’t matter whether we are rich or poor, we must never neglect our obligation to support our church, as the widow did for her temple. The amount is not as important as the sincerity in our intention.

The second lesson we learn today is, we must give with total trust in the Lord’s Providence, believing that the cornucopia of God’s bounty will always be available to us. If we really have genuine faith in God, then we should harbor no doubt that He will open the floodgates of heaven to fill all our needs.

The third lesson Christ teaches us is this – “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also get a generous harvest. God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” (2 Cor.9:6,8) Most important of all, by being a gift to others, we become God’s answer to their prayers. This was demonstrated by the sacrificial love and generosity of Gidget, who donated one of her kidneys to her cousin Deng, who had been undergoing dialysis for some time, and had come to the point when only a kidney transplant could save her life. Even with the possibility that her donated kidney might be rejected, Gidget willingly took the risk, because she had the faith of a giver. She calls to mind the words of Khalil Gibran in his article on “Giving”: “You give but little when you give of your possessions; it is when you give of yourself that you truly give … then there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty. . . Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.” Be a giver, and God will bless you for the rest of your life.

Lord, may the words of St. Paul apply in all our dealings: “The One who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Cor. 9:10) Amen.

Resurrection is Eternal Life

Luke 20: 27-40
1Mac 6:1-13 / Ps 9:2-4,6,16, 19

Moses…calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for to Him all are alive.
(Luke 20: 37-38)

Who else on earth can give direction
The way that Jesus Christ has given?
Our belief in the Resurrection
Will assure our passage to heaven.

Now there came to Jesus some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), and they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother. Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; and the second and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children. Finally the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for to Him all are alive.” Some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.” For they did not have courage to question Him any longer about anything. (Luke 20: 27-40)


Jesus had just silenced the scribes and the chief priests when He wisely answered their trick question on paying taxes to Caesar (“Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God”). Now the Sadducees stepped forward to stump Jesus with a question about marriage and the resurrection. Jesus’ answer brings us to reflect on the deeper meaning of the resurrection. First, Jesus makes a distinction: “The sons of this age (who) marry” and “those considered worthy of that age (who) neither marry nor are given in marriage.” He was telling the Sadducees indirectly that they were not worthy to enter that other age (eternal life) because they did not believe in the resurrection. Their idea of immortality was the perpetuation of a man’s name through his children in this life. That was why a man must marry his brother’s widow according to the Jewish Levirate law (Deut.25:5), to produce children to carry on the dead man’s name. By simply quoting Moses in the “Burning Bush” incident, the Sadducees’ belief was demolished.

We scoff at the error of the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead nor in the angels and living saints in heaven. But if we examine our lifestyle, can we truly say that we are not like them at all? If we truly believe in the afterlife, what preparations are we undertaking now to ensure that we will be worthy to enter that age? We all know that our life here on earth is but a short sojourn, but many of us live as if our lives can go on forever. Thus our obsession with material things and our temporal concerns make us children of this world rather than “sons of the resurrection” that we ought to be. St. Paul said, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1Cor.15:19). Think about it: Why would God go to all the trouble of becoming man, be crucified on the cross, and resurrect from the dead if life was merely confined here on earth? Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

Lord God, the way we live is determined by our faith in the resurrection. Help us to stand boldly for the Gospel of Jesus, Your Son, and to store up treasures in heaven, so that we may be assured of our own resurrection, the doorway to Your kingdom. Amen.

Once a Den of Thieves

Luke 19: 45-48
1Mac 4:36-37,52-59/1Chr 29

My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.
(Luke 19:46)

This temple has been purified
By blood of Jesus crucified.
Never will it be stained again,
Or else Christ’s death would be in vain.

When Jesus entered the temple courts, He began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” He said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of thieves.’” Every day He was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill Him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words. (Luke 19:45-48)


Our Lord Jesus was always faithful to Scriptures even when He had to take drastic measures against those who defiled God’s temple. As He drove the money changers out of the temple grounds, He quoted Isaiah (56:7: “My house shall be a house of prayer”), and Jeremiah (7:11: “Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves?”). By quoting Holy Scriptures, He made it clear that His actions were fully justified, because they were the fulfillment of the prophecies of those ancient heralds of God.

Today’s short Gospel account of Luke about the cleansing of the temple inspires us to see that life is a continuous process of purification. Most of the time it may involve pain and rejection, but it is necessary to purge our temple of all materialistic or venal influences if we want to reach the level of holiness that God calls us to attain .

It also tells us how serious a crime against God’s sacred institution is when we defile it with the commerce of a marketplace. Imagine mammon taking precedence over worship in the sacred place of worship? Such insult only deserves swift punishment!

“My house” used to be a “den of thieves”. All sorts of sins and vices once took quarters in it, and on my own efforts I could not rid it of its many iniquities. The vilest thief that once ruled the place was the sin of immorality, and many trusting hearts did that thief steal to satisfy its lust. Then one day, Jesus came and decided to take lodging in my heart. By the simple process of displacement, all the thieves were driven out. By the power of His Word and His indwelling Spirit, this house has now been swept clean; the Lord has made it into a temple of His graces.

“By wisdom a house is built, by discernment the foundation is laid; by knowledge its storerooms filled with riches of every kind, rare and desirable.” (Prov.24:3-4) These are what the Lord has done, and “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” (Psalm 23:6)

You tell me in today’s Gospel, Lord, that my house, this temple of Your Holy Spirit must always be a house of prayer, because there is always the danger that without prayers my body can turn into a ‘den of thieves’. Help me to be vigilant in my prayers, because to be faithful to Jesus is victory, as falling into sin is defeat. Come, Holy Spirit, always abide in my heart. Amen.