November 13, 2022
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's The Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 159

Malachi 3:19-20a
Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Luke 21:5-19

Praying Ordinary Time


As young Jesuits, years ago now, at the evening meal we would listen to the daily recounting from a book entitled 'the Martyrology.' We would be eating dinner and hear accounts of heads being knocked off, bodies boiled in iron boxes, lions chewing up believers and such gruesome pictures. While eating and listening, I would wonder if I could finish the meal and even more, if I could finish my vocation as a Jesuit in such terrible situations. I always managed to finish with dessert though.

Here on my desk is a five-by-five-inch little platform with a bent miniature fence post with some straggly barbed wire hanging on it and a small figure of the Franciscan Maximillan Kolbe who replaced a condemned man who had been sentenced to death in Auschwitz and so gave his life. Albert Delp and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, two other W.W. II Christian martyrs, had also read today’s Gospel and listened to its last verse. This week we will commemorate the murdering of five El Salvadorean Jesuits, their house  keeper and her daughter. They had also read these verses from today’s Gospel and these all did persevere.

In our listening to or reading these verses we might wonder if we are rather reading today’s newspaper or listening to or watching the daily news. There are wars, earthquakes, famines and dangerous uses of power. We hear Jesus speaking to His followers as He predicts how speaking and living His ways are going to be met with arrests, persecution, betrayals, even by family members. They will confront and then be seen as inconveniences and insults to the oppressors and dominators. In some way, they, as with Jesus Himself, will get what they bargained for.

I heard the whole Martyrology during my first five years as a Jesuit and each of us has listened to and perhaps prayed with these very verses from Luke’s Gospel. I then and now, and perhaps you as well, did and do wonder at what point would I excuse myself from His company with good excuses, such as “Well, I could stay alive to be available to do other good works.” Yes, a normal thought pattern. We can ponder whether the deaths of Kolbe, Delp, Bonhoeffer and the El Salvadorean companions brought about anything productive or helpful to the making of peace with Justice. Wouldn’t negotiations or denial work out better in the long run?

We are left with the final verses from both the First Reading from the Prophet Malachi and today’s Gospel and we pray, perhaps, to resist the self-condeming thoughts that we would not have the grace of perseverance and would drop out. We do, in our own small lives, live the daily martyrdom of living with our own earthquakes, wars, betrayals.

We ponder. What is worth living for and worth dying for? How precious is all that we give our every day to and for. We may not shed our blood for a cause or person, but that same blood gives us a life worth living for and that is an every-day offering. A good life is more than good when it is given to the living of others. Each day is a “thank You” for what we can share.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook