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Lord Jesus said: “My house will be a house of prayer” (Luke 19:46).
The figure of Jesus is mainly associated with good qualities. Today, however, Jesus got angry. Why? He came to the sanctuary – and saw the fair. The shrines of the Jews were beautiful. They were large spaces surrounded by walls. There was a court of the women, a court of the men, a holy place where the priests and Levites sacrificed, and a place called the holy of holies, where the high priest entered once a year to offer incense to God. Everyone could enter the courtyard of the Gentiles, both foreigners, and Gentiles. The whole sanctuary stood in a high place above the city. Jesus Christ loved this sanctuary. He went there every year to his Father’s house. But in the last year of his life, when he entered this sanctuary, he wept over it because he knew that it would be destroyed and that only a stone would remain. And so it happened. And so it is until today. Only a piece of the wall remained, called the “Wailing Wall”.
Jesus Christ loved the Jerusalem temple so much that he entered it as his Father’s house. Then it is no wonder, when he saw sellers and buyers in the temple, that in anger, he overturned the tables of the money changers and drove the sellers out of the temple. Is not the sanctuary a house of prayer? Jesus Christ had great interest and zeal for his Father’s house. All people at different times wanted to build the most beautiful house-church for the Lord God in the middle of their houses. Christians offered the first Holy Masses in private homes. The table was an altar. In Rome, Christians gathered in the catacombs and underground cemeteries, and at night they celebrated the Eucharistic celebration at the graves of the martyrs. When Christians were allowed to pray in public, wealthy Romans made their fine houses available for people to pray in. This is where the basilicas come from. Then came terrible times, raids of barbarian nations, and it was necessary to protect oneself. They gathered in stone churches with small arches and a tower that was also a shooting range.
The Middle Ages came, and the religious people of those times, whose names we do not know, built such beautiful shrines to God that we admire today. These stunning towers direct our thoughts and hearts to God. There are colorful stained glass windows in the arches, beautiful carvings, and sculptures above the entrance to the church. People began building churches for God when new times came after the Middle Ages. TodModernurches no longer have pointed or Gothic arches; they no longer have so much gold. Modern churches are being built next to modern apartment buildings worldwide. They are simple houses where God lives, and people pray.
We have seen the church many times. But do we know what each thing means?
The tower shows us that we have a Father in heaven.
The bells remind us to go to the temple and pray.
At the entrance to the church, there is a shrine in which there is holy water so that those who enter here can wash and be clean.
Strange things happen in the confessional – the secret of conversion and forgiveness through God.
We listen to God’s word from the pulpit.
At baptism in the baptistery, we became sons and daughters of God.
The most important place in the church is the sanctuary, where the holy guests are kept. Jesus is in our midst and will always be with us.
There are still many things in the church: organs, pews, bells, and the like.
All this is to help us to feel good here and to be able to pray fervently in it.
At Holy Mass, we pray for those who give donations to the church, that the house of God may be beautiful, and that it may be a worthy sign of our faith and the faith of those who built and maintained this church. Tell me, where is your place in the church? How do you pray in church? Are you in the right place? How are you doing here? Do you value and respect the prayer of others? Don’t you talk when others are praying? Do you make time every day to be able to come here and tell God that you love him even for staying here with us in the church day and night?
Let’s wish that our temple is genuinely ours, that we feel good in it, visit it o, often and take care of it.
Who has not encountered weeping in his life? We say we are in the valley of tears from birth to death. Pain is the punishment for our sins. But there is no crying like weeping. There is a difference between the cry of an infant and that of his father. There is a difference between crying for joy and crying for pain.
Even today, we are aware of this difference when we read the Gospel, “When he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it…” (Lk 19:41).
Christ’s coming to earth powerfully manifested God’s love for human beings. The Lord Jesus, especially in the last three years, when we speak of Him as Teacher, has not only explained His mission and why He came into this world but we have been instructed how we are to live here on earth to be worthy of the fruits of His Passion and death.
The Lord Jesus, as God, knew that His journey here on earth was coming to an end. He knew His mission would culminate in a few days, yet He weeps over Jerusalem. This weeping is justified. How does God know that this city will not accept his sacrifice of love, that is, his death on the cross? In the same way, other cities, individuals, and nations will not take his teachings of love. He knows that for many, his death is useless. Indeed, he knows that every man has the power to decide his eternity. Every man with reason and free will is created in the image of God and, therefore, either desires or rejects eternal dwelling in a state of bliss with his Creator and Redeemer God.
The weeping of Christ over Jerusalem is a solemn remembrance for Christians. We know that in the year 70 – as recorded by the historian Josephus Flavius – this city that crucified Christ was destroyed by the Roman army, and the nation was scattered throughout the world. In two thousand years, the country disappeared from the world map. They lived scattered all over the world. Today we know that the government has its state existence again. But even all this should alert us to the grave motives that led the Lord Jesus to tears over this city.
We know that Jesus wept only twice. The first time was out of love for His friend Lazarus, where He showed His human love when His friend Lazarus died, and the second time He wept out of pain over the blindness of the people of Jerusalem.
He did not weep over the betrayal of Judas, but we can assume that the tears over Jerusalem were also tears over Judas at the same time. He did not grieve over the betrayal of Peter, but we may also surmise that his tears over Jerusalem were understood by Peter, for he indeed remembered his betrayal. But we know that the Lord Jesus did not weep even when He was scourged, crowned with thorns, when He carried the cross, nor when He was crucified.
The Lord Jesus wept only at the hardness of human hearts. Weeping over Jerusalem is also crying over us when our hearts are complex because he teaches love when our hearts have become a rock that does not receive his words of love, when we reject him with words, when we despise him, when we hinder others from having our hearts belong to Christ, when offenses, strife, sins without regret, desire for correction and repentance come from us.
This is a clarion call for us believers to struggle against sin, against our faults and shortcomings, and not to neglect to do good because we must live in union with Christ; so that the words that Jesus wept over our indifference and the hardness of our hearts do not apply to us.
We know how it hurts a father when a son falls under sin. The son often does not realize that the father suffers more for his sins. Only when perhaps the son becomes a father will he then understand why the father was sometimes sad for him. To prevent sorrow and pain, to prevent tears, means more effort in the fight against evil and sin.
There is a difference between tears and weeping. We also know the tears of repentance. Let us not content ourselves with the tears of repentance in our eyes alone but also be sensitive to the tears of repentance in our hearts.
With Jesus’ parable about the talents, which is from the Gospel of Matthew, we meet in a modified form also in the so-called gospel to the Jews, which the Church did not recognize as a gospel inspired by God, but which was widespread and widely read among the so-called by Judeo-Christians, i.e., Christians coming from the Jewish people.
In today’s Gospel, the first servant, to whom the master entrusted five talents when he left, obtained five more for his Master and was praised by the master for this when he returned. The second servant, to whom the master entrusted two talents when he left, buried them in the ground and was mildly reprimanded by the master for this. The third servant, to whom the master entrusted one talent at his departure, squandered this talent with harlots and flute players and stood empty-handed before the master upon his return. And for this embezzlement, he was thrown into prison. What led the writer of this Gospel to the Jews to make these changes? According to Jewish law, one entrusted with some money fulfilled this obligation if he buried the money in a safe place and then, when needed, dug it up and handed it over to the one who entrusted it to him. The author of the Gospel to the Jews, therefore, wanted to preserve the prescription of the Jewish law.
Let’s take a closer look at the parable’s meaning: Who is this parable of Jesus directed against?
Directly against the Jewish scribes, the Jewish scholars of the Scriptures in its Old Testament part. During his public ministry, Jesus constantly blamed them for the fact that they received the key of knowledge in their hands, which opened the door to the kingdom of God, that is, to salvation. Still, they do not use this key to actu this door to those who would like to recereceiveo the kingdom of God. Jesus tells the Jewish scribes: “…you have taken the key of knowledge! You did not enter yourselves, and you prevented those who wanted to enter” (Luke 11:52).
The key to knowledge is the word of God, the word that God spoke to the chosen Jewish nation and thus to all people in the Scriptures. But what exactly did these Jewish scribes do with this revealed word? Did they give him hearts opening knowledge to the suffering, poor and sick? Have they softened the hearts of sinners? Or they made of it only a kind of fence that separates them from God and thus allowed them to close themselves in their own “righteousness,” which will enable them to say in God’s temple: God, I thank you that I am not like other people: blackmailers, dishonest or like this tax collector. What is to be done with the word of God? These are profound words. Serious because God is an incorruptible Judge who will ask each one exactly what he has done with the word of God entrusted to him. Jesus’ parable was addressed primarily to the Old Testament Jewish scribes. Still, it retains its relevance, brothers and sisters, even today, when we are no longer interested in Jesus’ disputes with the Jewish writers. The Word of God was entrusted to the Christian Church. This means to every person of this Church in different ways. Brothers and sisters, the word talent has passed into all modern European speech. It comes from the Greek word – talent, and in modern European languages ,it means – talent or aptitude. Today, we don’t even realize that the word talent, talent point to God, who gave something to a person who put something into a person. Before Christianity, the word talent meant only a unit of weight or money. This unit of weight got its meaning as a talent, an aptitude, precisely in Christianity, based on the parable we heard. The simile distinguishes between a person’s talent and ability. To better understand what it means. The talent here means a considerable amount of money. Thus, according to the latest studies, one talent is the salary of 16 well-earning workers of that time in one year. According to the level of their abilities, servants receive talents for their management. There is an emphasis on the idea that we are entrusted with something and are to do something about it.
And that is God’s word for us, which we, Christians, encounter in Jesus Christ. It gives us a firm position and direction in which our life should go, but at the same time, it makes us messengers and witnesses of his truth before people. A genuine Christian can’t revel in his Christianity and not be interested in his surroundings and their problems. Christians cannot be active in the same way. On the one hand,d in their abilities at birth, there will also be differences in the understanding and knowledge of the content of the faith given to them at baptism. Every Christian, whether he has greater or lesser abilities, must be involved in his surroundings and solving problems. Every Christian can and has the opportunity to engage again and again every day. What Jesus wants here was perhaps best described by his great disciple Paul when he writes in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “Let everyone consider us to be Christ’s servants and stewards of God’s mysteries.” And it is required of administrators to be faithful” (1 Cor 4:1-2). What Paul says about himself and ers applies to all Christians without exception. “But I do n about whether you or another human court judges me. I do not even believe myselconsiderr I am not aware unaware, but that does not excuse me. The Lord is my judge. I don’t even consider myself because Iunawareare of anything, but that doesn’t excuse me. The Lord is my judge. I don’t even judge myself because I’m unaware of anything, but that doesn’t excuse me. The Lord is my judge.
Therefore, judge nothing prematurely until the Lord comes. He illuminates what is hidden in darkness and reveals the intentions of hearts. Then everyone will receive praise from God” (1 Cor 4:3-5). These words apply to bishops, priests, parents, educators, and every Christian. Each of them is entrusted with the word of God, but not for themselves. . Each of them each their shoulders for the word of God. God has revealed his word to us, and that means which means he has given us to look for ways to practice it in our lives. And according to the faithfulness that fulfills this duty, each of us will answer God one day and be judged by God. Indeed, there are dif, different ways of providing this service. Providing I, as a priest, am there to study this word of God and explain it to you in an appropriappropriatelyevers, are called to that you pass on this word of God in your immediate surroundings, according to the measure of your abilities. And here, brothers and sisters, the question falls on me as a priest and on you as believers: What have you done, and what have I done to pass on the word of God that was entrusted to me appropriately? For example, what did our Catholic parents do to pass on the word of God to their children? How much have they thought about suitable ways to bring their children to Jesus Christ, to his love? Brothers and sisters, I don’t want to rebuke anyone today, but how many families do we have where parents complain about their children that they are no longer Christians? What did these parents do with the word of God entrusted to them to keep their children close to Jesus Christ? Many parents were content with the proper fulfillment of Christian duties and drove their children to church while they were young. And that was all. So they built a fence around their Christianity and separated themselves from others. That is the most profound meaning of this parable. If we did not pass on the word of God entrusted to us as Christians in suitable ways we were thinking about our surroundings, we would be tough to answer for it, according to that parable. So this seemingly straightforward parable poses a serious question to each of us: which we are puzzled over in our surroundings, and according to that parable, we willtoughcult to answer it. So this seemingly straightforward parable poses a serious question to each of us: which we are puzzled over in our surroundings, and according to that parable, we willtoughcult to answer it. So this parable, seemingly very simple, poses a grave question to each of us:
What have we done with God’s word?
And we will be responsible for that one day.
Brothers and sisters, we take everything formally. We have heard many things in life, but we often do not understand what is hidden behind what we hear. I guehear never even realized what responsibility we took upon ourselves as Christians. I wanted to say: Amen. But since I don’t want to end these words so harshly, I would like to end with a small request: It is never too late to think about your responsibility. I will ask you a question. Not to you older adults anymore, but to the young people here. I see them in the back who sooner or later get married or get married: How much and what do you want to do to correctly explain God’s word to your children who will be born to you?
Daily trifles are our displaced rosary beads.
Those mines (another evangelist remembered as talents) were the highest-value currency. Although the king from Christ’s parable speaks of “little things,” – how abundantly he rewards faithfulness in these little things: Have power over ten cities. So that little thing was not so small.
Because nothing is petty, nothing small – for true love. In the eyes of faith and love, everything is essential, holy, and excellent. The little things are little beads of the rosary that move in the hands; these are our daily activities if we perform them as carefully as possible; these are our daily affairs, experienced in the spirit of faith and love; from them grow our human greatness and immortal glory. Little things – these are tiny drops of God’s graces, thanks to which every day and every activity becomes worthy of a reward and not a small tip.
God entrusted us with those “little things”: he entrusted us with time, strength, health, abilities of the heart and mind, various innate possibilities, and different chances – and such a chance, perhaps underappreciated, is also our sufferings. God entrusted us with all these talents, saying: Trade till I return. We may be proud of our faith in God – but God instead believed and trusted us because he entrusted countless possibilities to take advantage of. Trade till I return. Trade not only with a thought of our merit and reward – but above all, out of love for the community in which we are to live. Trade until I return. The church year ends, and our attention turns to the prophesied coming of Christ. We confess aloud: Christ died, rose from the dead, and Christ will return.. .we await you’re coming in glory. Would this confession not be an empty phrase? The mines or talents entrusted to us must be diligently multiplied if we expect. They are not given to us for our arbitrary disposal, to do with them as we please, but they are entrusted to us as capital, to put them multiplied into the hands of the King who will return.
One of the issues on which there is no unanimous opinion among Christians is the fate of the dead. The Catholic Church, Eastern Churches, and several Protestant churches teach that the immortal soul lives on after physical death – either in bliss with God or in rejection. On the other hand, there are opinions that all life ends with physical death, and the dead will only rise in the general resurrection at the end of history, and only then will their fate be salvation or rejection. There is a rare opinion that only “good” people will be resurrected and the bad will never be resurrected /Jehovah’s Witnesses/. Opponents of the immortality of the soul and, thus, the immediate continuation of life after death claim that only the doctrine of resurrection at the end of time is supported in the Scriptures. The principle of the soul’s immortality is clearly stated in tradition, but since some Christian congregations do not recognize it, we confine ourselves to Scripture.
The Old Testament mentions this problem only in passing; the question of death, or the fate of the deceased, appears sporadically. Among the few mentions, let us say the prophet, Daniel /Dan, 12, 2/: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting disgrace.” In the 2nd Book of Maccabees, one of the tortured brothers says: “You shut us out of the present life, but the King of the world will raise us to eternal life!”/2 Macc, 7, 8/, the others and their mother express themselves similarly. There is also the prayer for the dead ordered by Judas Maccabee: “For if he had not hoped that the fallen soldiers would rise from the dead, it would have been useless and unreasonable to pray for the dead … he ordered an atoning sacrifice to be offered for the dead so that they might be freed from sin ” /2 Macc, 12, 44-45/. /It should be mentioned that the Jewish canon was established in Javna at the end of the 1st century; he did not recognize the books of the Maccabees. These passages use expressions about the “resurrection of the dead” and thus seem to contradict the soul’s immortality even after physical death. Some statements from wisdom books are also used in support, such as “For the living at least know that they will die, while the dead know nothing more” /Ecclesiastes 9, 5/, or in Psalm 6: “No one among the dead remembers you, who praises you in the underworld?” /Ps 6, 6/. Some conclude that according to the Scriptures, the deceased is dead until the day of judgment and will only be revived at the end. But let us mention another statement about the deceased: “They no longer have a share in anything that happens under the sun” /Ps 9, 6/, so that in these contexts, we can rightly assume that we are dealing with reflections on the fate of the deceased according to earthly circumstances. The eternal existence of the soul, i.e., life even after bodily death, is also found in hints in the Old Testament writings. For example
Several passages in the New Testament also describe the resurrection of the dead; the apostle Paul often addresses this subject. He writes more extensively in 1 Thessalonians, and in 1 Corinthians, he devotes the entire 15th chapter to this subject. Among other things, he writes: “For as all men die in Adam, so shall all be made alive in Christ” /1 Cor, 15, 22 – the apostle speaks here of the resurrection of all, not only of the good/, respectively “… because the trumpet will sound and the dead will rise incorruptible…”/1 Cor 15, 52/, “… and those who died in Christ will rise first.” /1 Sol 4, 16/. In early Christian times, there was a belief that the coming of the Lord would take place during the lifetime of their generation, so Paul continues, “… and we who are alive, who are still living, will then be caught up with them in the air to meet the Lord” /1 Sol, 4, 17/.
It should be noted that if we follow the Old and New Testaments in their entire context, we see a straightforward “pedagogical approach” – God gradually reveals Himself to man and teaches him. It sets solid moral standards but is lenient and often adapts to a person’s current abilities. Let us mention the polygamous practice of the patriarchs and kings, although Christ clearly defines this area as a relationship between a man and a woman. Similarly, the question of a person’s posthumous existence is profiled in stages in Scripture. However, in the Old Testament, it is clearly stated that a person consists of a body and a soul. At the creation of Adam, “God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” /Gen 2:7/ – this is an essential point of the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul. However, this was still the prevailing view in Old Testament times that after bodily death, the “breath of life” ascends to God. “Who knows whether the breath of life of the sons of Adam ascends to the heights and the breath of life of the animals descends to the earth?” /Ecclesiastes 3, 21/. However, these statements do not testify to the death of the soul; they only express the uncertainty of the preacher in this question and do not mean a final confirmation. It must clearly state what happens to the breath of life – the soul – when it ascends to the Lord. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians: “For if there is an animal body, there is also a spiritual one … The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a quickening spirit.” /1 Cor 15, 44-45/. “But I say, brethren, flesh and blood have no part in the kingdom of God, nor corruption in incorruption.” /1 Cor 15, 50/. Although he writes these words in connection with the necessity of the transformation of the mortal body during the resurrection, from them can also be deduced the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and, thus, of the continuation of life after physical death. For all others, we quote the passage from the 1st Epistle of the Apostle Peter: “… for the highest fruit of your faith, the salvation of souls; you will receive.” /1 Petr, 1,9/. We find several similar passages in the Apostolic Letters.
In the Revelation of John /Apocalypse/, there is a passage where the Apostle, after opening the fifth seal, “…saw under the altar the souls of those who were killed for the word of God and the testimony…”/Off 6, 9/They cried, “…when will you avenge our blood?”. Each of them was given a white robe and told to wait a little longer until the number of their fellow servants was filled…” /ZJ 6, 10-11/. Some claim that the Apocalypse must be understood exclusively figuratively, without referring to realities. And so that this passage means that those who have died in the Lord are to “rest in their graves” until the Day of Judgment, as interpreted by the instruction given for them / some Slovak translations have the expression “rest”; others “give up.” “/. The fact that they are in the tombs also expresses their placement under the altar, and the white robes are only a symbolic expression of their future resurrection.
Furthermore, in the next sequel, we read: “A great multitude from all nations … stood before the throne and before the Lamb; they were clothed in white robes, they had palms in their hands, and they shouted with a loud voice” / Revelation 7:9/ One of the elders next to the throne explains: “These are the ones who came out of the great tribulation and washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they stand in his temple day and night…. .” /Revelation 7:13,14/. Several Old Testament quotations follow. The objection that this is a description of the righteous after their resurrection is not relevant since it is about their service to God in the present “day and night” moreover, this paragraph is followed by a series of events /the seventh opening seal, the sounding of the seven trumpets, the seven bowls of wrath, three witnesses, etc./in addition, the writer then mentions the “first” resurrection and only in St. 20 Judgment Day. Thus, the righteous serve the Lord before the Last Judgement and the general resurrection. Since, according to Paul, flesh and blood “cannot participate in the kingdom of God,” only the soul can have this participation, which therefore does not disappear with death but continues to exist without a body. It is also worth mentioning the statement in the 1st letter of the apostle Peter about Christ. After his crucifixion and before his resurrection, “So he went and preached in the spirit in prison. They were once disobedient when God’s mercy awaited them…. .” /1 Pet 3, 20 /. This passage is traditionally used as the article of faith, “descent to the dead” in the Creed. Still, the important thing is that one can only preach to those alive – if not physically, they must be alive within the framework of spiritual existence. Only the soul can have this participation, which does not disappear with death but continues to exist without a body. It is also worth mentioning the statement in the 1st letter of the apostle Peter about Christ. After his crucifixion and before his resurrection, “So he went and preached in the spirit in prison. They were once disobedient when God’s mercy awaited them…. .” /1 Pet 3, 20 /. This passage is traditionally used as the article of faith, “descent to the dead” in the Creed. Still, the important thing is that one can only preach to those alive – if not physically, they must be alive within the framework of spiritual existence. Only the soul can have this participation, which does not disappear with death but continues to exist without a body. It is also worth mentioning the statement in the 1st letter of the apostle Peter about Christ. After his crucifixion and before his resurrection, “So he went and preached in the spirit in prison. They were once disobedient when God’s mercy awaited them…. .” /1 Pet 3, 20 /. This passage is traditionally used as the “descent to the dead” article of faith in the Creed. Still, the important thing is that one can only preach to those alive – if not physically, they must be alive in the context of spiritual existence.
Perhaps the most famous passage in the New Testament is Christ’s response to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection and tried to catch him up with a combined story about a woman who caused seven men to die one after another. Whose will it be after the resurrection when they rise from the dead? In answer, Jesus says: “When they rise from the dead, they no longer marry or are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” /Mk 12, 25, Mt 22, 30/. Lukáš presents the extended words of Christ: “Those who are recognized as worthy of the world beyond and the resurrection will no longer marry or be given in marriage /Lk, 20, 35/. “And as for the resurrection from the dead, have you not read in Moses in the story of the thorn bush how God said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living!” /Mk, 12, 26-27, Mt 22, 31-32/ In Lukáš, he adds: “…everyone lives for him” /Lk, 20, 38/. At first sight, it seems that these words of Christ exclude the existence of the soul’s life after death and only confirm the final resurrection at the end of time. Is it so?
No, Christ was answering a specific question of the Sadducees concerning the resurrection. However, He confirms the soul’s life after death in several places. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, he says: “… the poor man died, and the angels carried him to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, in great agony, he looked up and saw Abraham and Lazarus from afar at his bosom.” /Luke, 16, 22-23/. So he is not saying that the rich man died and was buried after the resurrection of the dead and saw Lazarus at the end of the world. The plot shows the immediacy of the rich man and Lazar’s survival after death. Of course, it is a parable, so it has a symbolic meaning, but it testifies to the fact that the dead live after death – either in heaven or hell. When we look at Christ’s parables, they are all grounded in reality. These are not speculative ideas; Christ uses authentic life images to make people understand them – let’s look at his parables of the sower, the lost drachma, the lost sheep, the good shepherd, etc., to understand the meaning better. So if he used authentic life imagery in these parables, why would he spread false ideas about the life of souls after death in this parable if it were not true? We can also mention the words of Christ: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? Or what will a man give for his soul?” / Mt, 16, 26,
If we realize that Christ used the phrase “God is the God of the living and not of the dead,” then if the patriarchs mentioned were dead and awaiting the final resurrection, they would no longer be alive, so this remark by Christ would be a contradiction. God would only be their God in the future after the resurrection. Moreover, in the scene of Christ’s transfiguration on Mount Tabor, it is written: “Then Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they talked with him” /Mk 9, 3, Mt 17,3/, Luke adds that they spoke of his “end which was to take place in Jerusalem”/Lk 9, 30/. It can be countered that according to the Old Testament, Elijah did not die but was taken alive from the earth /2 Cr. 2, 11/ and so he could speak to Christ, but this cannot be said about Moses, whose death is described in Dt 34. Opponents often argue that it was a particular case for which God “raised” Moses, similar to how he raised some of the dead during Christ’s crucifixion, who came to Jerusalem after his resurrection /Mt 27, 52-53/. However, this cannot be accepted; all the Synoptics write about the appearance, or “shown,” not the resurrection. Moreover, it is evident from the other descriptions /Christ’s facial expression changed, his clothes turned white, etc./ that this is a non-standard phenomenon and not a resurrection to ordinary life, as in the case of Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, etc., where the dead returned on standard terms and in a normal appearance.
The last words of Jesus on the cross have a solid message value. And here is a well-known passage with a repentant thief who says to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise! ” /Luke, 23, 42-43/. He did not say to him: In x thousand years after the end of the world, you will be resurrected, and then you will be with me. He said, “Today.” They both died that day, so the promise had to be fulfilled towards the immortal soul of the villain. He is alive and well before the final resurrection if he has been with him in paradise ever since. As early as the 1980s, I came across an interpretation that is still common today that the sentence is not to be understood as “Verily, I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in paradise,” but: “Verily, I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.” It is a grammar game with punctuation marks. From the earliest times, Christians understood this statement to mean “Today you will be in Paradise,” not otherwise. Any other meaning would not even make sense. Why would Christ emphasize that he was saying this “today”? He knew he would die; he could not say it “tomorrow” and not even in the past because he had never spoken to the villain before. Why wouldn’t he phrase other statements this way, e.g., Why does he say “I thirst” in John’s Gospel and not “Today I thirst,” or why didn’t he use the word “today” in any other statement? There are many sayings in the Gospels where Christ begins with the phrase, “Verily, verily, I say unto you…” and never “Verily, verily, I say unto you today.” He only used the word “today” in this context when answering the thief on the cross. The logic of things and the faith of Christians from the earliest times prove that Christ promised the thief paradise on his death.
In conclusion, we can say that the belief in the immortality of the soul, that is, in the continuation of life even after physical death and not after the final resurrection of the dead is confirmed not only by tradition but also by Scripture.
It is said that some German regions have unique customs on the anniversaries of the temple’s dedication that they attach a figure made of straw or rags to a decorated pole. Then this decorated pole is carried to the church for ceremonial services. They call this figure Zacchaeus, which is supposed to resemble the biblical Zacchaeus we heard about in today’s Gospel.
Who was Zacchaeus? In later writings, it is said that he became a companion of Saint Peter and appointed him the first bishop of Caesarea, where he died a martyr’s death. According to French tradition, he came to Gaul as a preacher of the Gospel, but he is also revered in Ethiopia as their local saint. We see that these are different legends, although it is very likely that Zacchaeus joined the disciples of Jesus after his conversion.
What does the Gospel tell us about Zacchaeus? What happened at that time in Jericho, Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector, that is, a rich and influential person, but at the same time, hated and despised by fellow citizens because we know that the customs officers worked for the benefit of the Roman occupiers, they were then typical collaborators. Jesus comes to Jericho with his disciples. People are curiously converging, crowding the path he is taking. Even Zacchaeus wanted to at least see the famous prophet out of curiosity. The Holy Scriptures say that he wanted to see his appearance and who he was. Zacchaeus was short, so he didn’t stand a chance in the crowded street. His curiosity is so great that he doesn’t care about his age or position, and like a boy, he climbs into the crown of a fig tree, where he has a beautiful view. But something unheard of happened here. The Lord Jesus stopped under this fig tree, looked up, and invited Zacchaeus to come down, that he wanted to be his guest today. It was an unheard-of confession. Such a famous prophet notices him, wants to come to him and eat with him, and even spend the night! That’s why Zacchaeus climbs down from the tree and invites him to his house. But protests begin to be heard from the crowd standing around, who have been watching this scene with suspense: A public sinner, a publican, and that is what this prophet will honor with his visit! as if we, honest and good Israelites, were not here – more worthy of hosting this famous preacher.
The situation from the Gospels, which is so well known to us, is repeated here. The Lord Jesus bows to the sinner and those who pretend to be righteous protest, doubting the authenticity of Jesus’ mission. How can a true prophet behave like this? We have already heard about it several times. And the Lord Jesus answers here as he has many times before: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10). This tax collector, a descendant of Abraham, is also entitled to salvation. And the sinner Zacchaeus responds just as Jesus wants it to. “Lord, I will give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have deceived anyone, I will repay fourfold” (Luke 19:8).
It is a similar experience for Zacchaeus as before for Levi, the son of Alphaeus, called Matthew, and later for Saul near Damascus, when in one moment, he understands who Jesus is and what needs to be done. Saul became Paul, and here Zacchaeus, the tax collector, became a disciple of the Lord.
In the Gospel, we read that even in Jericho, enthusiastic crowds saw Jesus, but only Zacchaeus is said to have drawn consequences from the meeting with the Lord Jesus. How would we react, or better said, how do we respond? We meet the Lord Jesus all the time. He is still with us, still giving us a sign, still urging us to come down and follow him. He still wants to be our guest. Are we always ready to receive Jesus? Are we always willing to follow him like Zacchaeus? Sure, we may now accept Jesus’ invitation to worship and gather around his table, but do we also fulfill his other commands, and are we willing to give half of our possessions to the poor? Are we willing to compensate four times the one we deceived and wronged? Are we willing to forgive those who have trespassed against us? In short and wisely – are we ready to live our faith radically, as Zacchaeus did when he climbed down from the tree and saw and believed in the Lord Jesus?
And you, dear friends, who do not know the Lord Jesus, are you willing to climb a tree to at least see him and desire to know who he is?
One priest recalls: “During the last war, we were forced into labor. I was in Linz. One Sunday afternoon, we came across a group of Russian prisoners in the city who were working on a bridge there. The young boys were standing in front of a large cross and silently looking at Christ nailed to the cross. When we addressed them, they turned and asked incomprehensibly, pointing to the cross: “Why?”
Have you also asked yourself this question, who does know Christ yet? You, too, walk on the Prague Bridge and see Christ nailed to the cross. You, too, are sons of Abraham; you are daughters and sons of a nation that knew Christ a thousand years ago and enthusiastically accepted him as its Lord and God. For he came to seek and save what perished. Accept him today with joy like Zacchaeus, so that Christ can say to you: “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:10)
We often witness criticism of others. Among the many complaints are the following: Why is he bothering with it when he doesn’t have it? Why start something when you don’t have any skills for it? I’m surprised he did it because he has no prerequisites for it… We come across such and sim experiences every day. We can imagine how it will turn out for someone who thinks and is not self-critical enough.
Let us recall two events from the Gospel. And indeed about a king who, before starting a war, sits down at the table with his advisers to consider and recalculate whether they are actually wise and strong enough to embark on that war. If they see a superior force against them, they humble themselves, send messengers, and s asking for peace terms. In the second case, we are talking about a tower builder who, before starting to build, sits down and adds up his savings and co, compares them to the expenses that await him. When he finds that they would not be enough for him to finish the building, he does not start, lest they laugh at him afterward: This one began to build but was unable to complete. What does this have to do with humility? After all, a person must admit his helplessness and inability, where his strength and abilities are insufficient. In the Gospel, we see that even some apostles did not like humility. We can see it from their behavior,
Lord Jesus uses the rapid turn of events in the Gospel to lead the apostles to self-criticism, so they do not overthink and ooverthinkeasily pay for it. He does not want to ridicule them directly but leads them to do so through the questions he asks them. They are too uncritical, and therefore the Lord Jesus leaves them in their imaginations for the time being until they mature enough to understand such things differently. The apostles answered everything, regardless of whether they were human or could do so. Where did they get so much audacity? Such self-confidence is not a sound business card for a person. Therefore, they needed to get rid of it as well. Indeed, after all that, they embraced their unhealthy behavior. They sobered up, and suddenly, everything was clear to them.
The whole upbringing of the Lord Jesus consisted of putting an image of an ideal in front of his listeners. Even at this moment, he shows a picture of his life. He came, humbled himself, took upon himself the nature of a servant, renounced his equality with God, and was considered an ordinary man. He did not come to be served by man but to help everyone himself. We know he not only said it but also did it at every step. For this, God exalted him and gave him a name above all other words, so that…
In their little pride, even the angels refused to pay homage to God, and we know where they went. Perhaps they thought it was not worthy of them, that they were more capable of other things. The teaching of the Lord Jesus aims at a person learning to know the pure truth about himself, penetrate his essence and discover who and what I am. Toisnow his soul’s stats and abilities, to learn to assess everything self-critically. Then his life will be filled with truth, and that is the image of true humility. Humility is the truth. At the same time, I think about who I am and what I am, what I can do, and admit to myself what I am not good at. So I don’t think more or less, just what common sense tells me. We live in a time when I feel that all those artificial differences between people have passed and ended. The recent past has made them feel strongly about the worst off. I think that anyone today who would assume that his family has a better background than the other person, or that he perhaps lives in better conditions and has higher schools than others, would put himself in a ridiculous light in front of everyone with such behavior.
So let’s think about ourselves: Am I not one of those people? Maybe we are unaware of it, but we let you allow how highly we think of ourselves. We want to be right everywhere. We are not critical enough to admit our mistakes. We have to have a significant say, and at the same time w,e keep saying that others recognize us, and we often don’t even allow them to breathe contentedly. We must have the last word, and we will tell ourselves that there is no one more present than us… Let’s not be surprised that then people will not like us; they will be afraid of us, avoid us, and even if not directly, as they did today’s apostles, but they will surely condemn us behind our backs and quite rightly so because we are not doing well.
Let’s not think about ourselves and our strengths and not rely on anything. The Lord Jesus gives us as a model a child who does not know such differences. It looks at everyone with the eyes of a friend. For him, making distinctions is foreign, especially where they don’t have to be made because there is no serious reason for it. We, Christians, as children of the same grandparents, should think and feel this way. In God, we have become God’s children, and in Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters to each other.
Therefore, we live modestly and unobtrusively with the only desire for God. Take a look at the life of Saint Teresa of Jesus, and you will find out what you are still missing!
Interview with priest Benjamín Kosnáč, who manages the English-speaking community of believers in the capital.
He returned from the USA five years ago, managing a parish in Detroit’s suburbs for nineteen years. He talks about the community of English-speaking believers he attends in Bratislava. He relates the story of an Anglican convert he accepted into the Catholic Church and confirmed.
He also explains how he came to serve the so-called Tridentine Masses, why he continues to do it even after returning from America, and what leads him to promote missions and support missionaries. Priest Benjamín Kosnáč.
Why did you wear such an unusual shirt for today’s interview?
I took it because we recently had a mission Sunday. I thought the tasks should also be expressed by a globe printed on the shirt. (Laughs.)
So it’s a mission shirt?
Somehow. I originally bought it when I went to school to represent a catechist in religion. I also went with a priest’s cassock, but also in this shirt. I thought to myself that sometimes it is necessary to change it.
You returned to Slovakia from the USA five years ago. We also interviewed you then. Are you already used to working with us?
I used to get used to it. After all, this is where I come from, and I returned to the system I knew and grew up in. Anyone in America for a long time will get used to a particular way of woparticularhere. Probably the most significant difference between parishes in the USA and those here is the presence of lay people and their involvement. In America, the church can respond more flexibly to the challenges of the laity.
In the US, many things in the parish would only work if lay people were willing to put their time and talents into it. But I can’t say that I miss anything.
Even your service in Slovakia is somewhat atypical at the moment.
I am not a priest in a parish; I am an auxiliary priest in a “tram parish” and a spiritual administrator for the English-speaking community, i.e., unofficially its priest.
Within this community, I got lay people for some simple services, such as the usher service, in Slovak for an usher. The benefit of lecturers has also settled down nicely, and some people help me teach religion.
We have a Sunday school model. We divided all children interested in religious education into four groups that have religion simultaneously.
As a priest, I could not teach all four groups. That’s why I used what I know from America. Adults I know who have experience teaching their children or in parish structures or are capable help me in this way.
We have groups of Burmese, first-time adopters, pre-first-time adopters, and kids in between. I have two adults for each group.
You mentioned the usher service. What is it?
The service of an usher is that two people come to church early. In the case of the English Mass, many people do not know the English Mass texts by heart. It is a mass for foreigners, and apart from the English, Americans, and Irish, we have all possible nationalities there – Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, Germans, and Africans.
More than half would only know how to respond to mass if they had the texts. We use the English missal at the gathering, where there are Sunday mass texts, biblical readings, and chants. And the ushers come earlier, spread the books, and prepare some things for the altar.
So they are like churchgoers?
Not. This person stands inside the church entrance, greets people, and eventually seats them. Their service can be seen before mass when the back pews fill up faster, and empty seats remain in the front or the middle of the benches. Usher sees how many people are coming, knows where there is still room, and when someone arrives, he asks if they want to sit down and shows them a seat.
I experienced something similar in Sweden and was very surprised at the time.
Yes, Sweden is a protestant country, and they have this refined. There is welcome value. When you asked me what I brought from America, and I practice it in Slovakia as well, at the end of the Holy Mass, after the final blessing, I go to the front of the church and shake people’s hands. I do this after the Sunday English mass in the Church of St. Ladislav and Blumentál. Older people are incredibly grateful for it.
You have already outlined that several nationalities go to English masses.
Yes, I have yet to mention Koreans, Filipinos, and Vietnamese.
Who exactly are these people?
Most work in international companies and corporations, and some work in the automotive sector, such as Koreans. Filipinos mainly work in the restaurant industry, Italians are primarily from the IT field, and some have found a Slovak husband or wife.
What about people from the diplomatic service?
They go to mass very little and occasionally. I don’t know why that is. Maybe they are non-practicing. They sometimes appear on significant holidays. But most ordinary people come.
For people coming from English-speaking countries, it is the only option to attend Mass in their native language. Foreigners who have Holy Mass in their language in Bratislava sometimes go to the English Mass and sometimes to the Mass in their usage. It is such a Bratislava principle that you go to a mass where you feel good.
“I am convinced I can help the missionaries more from here – through sermons, videos on YouTube, or personal contacts.”
People at the English masses are also taught to react more. It’s not so “poker face” that I’m not allowed to laugh or react. During the sermon at English Masses, I also notice the body language of the believers, and eventually, they reach; there is active listening. I am slowly getting better at the morning mass in Blumentál.
What does it mean to lead an English-speaking community? Are we talking about something other than mass and teaching religion on Sunday?
They all have my phone number. They need to talk, confess, and solve something to know they can come. If I don’t know something, I will direct them. I try to give them the basic service of presence and pastoral care.
Is there time for leisure activities?
I cannot organize it. But since Good Friday, a fantastic Dubai Indian layman has come into the community. He helped me improve the catechetical program.
I have yet to make a roast all the time I’ve been here. Now, also on his initiative, we will meet at one event.
Are there several priests working in Bratislava who are devoted to foreigners?
They are like that. I dare say that the younger the priest, the more he is exposed to English. And then some priests studied abroad. Verbs, for example, have strangers in the community as well. When English-speaking believers come to them, they know how to solve things with him there, and they don’t even send them to me.
Do the opinions that are present in the church manifest themselves among foreigners? For example, traditionalists?
Not. I think most people do not follow the liturgical-theological wars in detail. They live their lives, raise children, and are happy to have access to the English Holy Mass. I can count those that deal with the mentioned topics on the one hand.
He is an Englishman who comes to us from an Anglican Pentecostal back; hend, hands became a Catholic partly because of his wife. And suddenly, he discovered tradition and Latin, which the charismatics did not have. It pushes a little too much; it needs to be balanced. (Smile.)
At one Mass in Bratislava, you said that you had baptized and accepted an Anglican into the Catholic Church. Is it common?
I didn’t baptize him. With the Anglicans, we recognize baptism, and as long as there is certainty about its validity, it is not repeated. I received the faculty to grant him the sacrament of confirmation and receive him into the Catholic Church. However, I caution that if someone is from Africa, it is a good idea to ask what baptism they use specifically.
In Africa and Anglicanism, charismatic Pentecostal elements are prevalent; they often baptize by sprinkling water or dipping a finger.
I digress, but there was a case in Detroit where a priest who had been ordained for two years was watching a video of his baptism during the pandemic. He found they baptized him in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and, Sanctifier. The deacon spoke the words, and the godparents poured water.
So all invalid?
All sacraments were invalid. The archdiocese had to give an explicit communiqué to the parish where he baptized, confessed, and so on, and people had to repeat the sacraments. And this was not an isolated example.
Therefore, when we were sitting with the convert, as mentioned above, who is Nigerian and is marrying a Catholic girl from Nigeria, he called my mother and asked if she remembered how he was baptized. And mom confirmed that he was baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
He verified it, and then I wrote to the archbishop asking the faculty to grant confirmation and admission to the Catholic Church. The archbishop could also confirm him in Slovak since he knows Slovak well. But he chose Burmese in English in our English community.
How long did the preparation take?
He was preparing for two years. Almost the entire preparation took place in Istanbul, where he worked before coming to Slovakia. In a Muslim country, he was preparing to accept the Catholic faith. I got in touch with a Spanish Salesian dedicated to him in Turkey. The last thing he missed was a conversation with the bishop.
In Turkey, they have set it up so that anyone who wants to become a Catholic must attend such a meeting. Then the pandemic happened, the panel did not occur, and in the meantime, he came to Slovakia to our community and told me all this.
What does such a process of acceptance into the Catholic Church look like?
A confession of faith precedes it as on Easter. There is a supplement where we ask: “Do you believe all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches as revealed by God?” When he says “I believe,” there follows the formula of acceptance into the church, then the celebration of confirmation, and, as part of the mass, he goes to the first Holy Communion.
Sometimes you also serve the so-called Trident Masses. How did you get there?
It has its history; it is related to my work in America. I see myself as a spiritual son of Saints Cyril and Methodius; for me, a language understandable to people and the service’s intelligibility is impoessentialme. In Detroit, where I worked, I met several people who went to lefeleftistseven sedevacantists. Lefebrists formally recognize the current pope as natural, while sedevacantists claim no real pope exists.
Coincidentally, one of my parishioners was married to such a sedevacantist. And once, an exciting debate started between their bishop and a professor of dogmatics in the Detroit seminary, who is of Slovak origin. Thanks to that, I got to know him a little more.
The three public theological debates resulted in some people saying, “if you have a Tridentine Mass that is important to us, then we will come.” Some h.”e understood that they are not to follow these currents. But at that time, there was,s no general permission given by Benedict XVI. When he released it, I thought I would fulfill my promise. And since we had many masses on Sunday, we introduced the Trident Mass on Saturday evening.
It is unusual for them, but we used the new liturgical norms so that they could have the old form of the Holy Mass. It was the only Trident Mass on Saturday with Sunday validity. (Laughs.)
This is how I learned how to celebrate her. As a person born after the Second Vatican Council, I am free from bad habits. It was something new for me, and when I learned how to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, I understood better why some believers are attracted to it.
The course and dynamics of the old form of mass are different in most of our churches,s there is ichurcheseragel standard mass. But when charismatics or neocatechumens call you to Mass, the dynamics of the liturgy will be different. In the case of the Tridentine Mass, one can speak of a kind of opposite pole.
“Sometimes there is an elevation of style: I pray in tongues, so I am more, or on the other hand: I receive the Eucharist on my knees, so I am better.”
I notice that the old form of mass attracts not only older adults out of nostalgia but also young people. For some who are more theologically sophisticated, it is the mass of Thomas Aquinas. Others seek it out because they need to be more comfortable with the interactive new form of thggroupshey appreciate the quieter, anmore d meditative dimdimensione so-called Trident.
So in the USA, you started serving the old form of mass for the groups mentioned above of believers; why do you continue to do so in Slovakia?
When I returned to Slovakia, I did not offer myself to anyone, but they learned that I knew how to serve this form of mass, and they called me. Although I admit that I preach somewhat gesturally, even at the Tridentine Mass, it may irritate some. (Smiles) For me, this service is a pastoral decision. I am glad to help.
How do you feel about the controversies associated with the traditionalist community, such as questioning the Second Vatican Council, the current Pope, and so on?
A lot of flings are closely tied to who leads a particular community. And this does not only apply to the traditionalist trend. Indeed, I wouldn’t say I like the phenomena you mentioned in the question because it speaks of the spirit of the promotion.
Why does this manifest itself in a group of people who are looking for an older form of liturgy?
In my opinion, it is also a reaction to certain uncertainties in our church world. Some twenty or thirty years ago, the truths of faith were clearly defined. When they started talking about homosexuals, for example, everything was immediately a sin. Today we learn to differentiate and o perceive things comprehensively. In this case, we classify the actions as immoral but do not condemn the person.
Moreover, Pope Francis is not dogmatic but pastoral. It leads us to perceive a person as human and then helps him gradually understand doctrine, morality, and the like.
So, I am still trying to figure out a clear answer: in traditional circles, people desire more certainty. In America, it was called castle mentality, a castle mentality – I have security, and I don’t want anyone to break it – but the church is more missionary than a castle.
In your opinion, is respect for the old form of the Mass compatible with relaxed attitudes?
Certainly yes. I experience that few who go to the Tridentine mass are open to, for example, charismatics. Charismatics are more open to traditional forms than vice versa.
At the same time, I consider both currents to be charismatic forms; only one is charismatic in an expressive way, and the other in a more meditative, calm manner. Mother Church has arms big enough to embrace both.
I’m just sorry that people, whether from one or the other side of the arms, don’t always perceive this. And sometimes there is an elevation of style: I pray in tongues, so I am more, or on the other hand: I receive the Eucharist on my knees, so I am better, and so on.
The Bratislava crematorium falls under the Blumentál parish. Does this mean you bury a lot?
In our parish, we register between eight hundred and a thousand Catholic funerals per year. Fortunately, ninety percent of the funerals are handled by our permanent deacon. The funeral does not require the presence of a priest.
Thirty years ago, I was a deacon here in Blumenthal and had eight funerals daily. That was horse riding. At that time, however, there was a trick that Blumentál was on duty one week, St. Cathedral the next. Martina.
How do you prepare for a funeral when you don’t know the deceased or their family?
In our parish, but probably not only here, we also have a habit of asking the family to provide at least a brief biography of the deceased. Or let them write about their life’s unique moments for them. The one conducting the funeral rites has a better picture and can prepare a speech.
You post videos with missionaries on Youtube. Some of them show that you are traveling to the mission sites; in some cases, the apostles send the video. How did you end up promoting missions like this?
Missions have fascinated me since childhood. I thought that one day I would be a missionary. I have been to America, but that is different from the developing world. And it was during my time in the USA we adopted a parish in Africa, where we went several times with diffotherups. This way of support lives on in his life, but after returning to Slovakia, I didn’t stop thinking about missions.
I now have two classmates on missions – one in Madagascar and the other in Russia. For me, the church is not only what is here. Some support projects are one-time, others longer-term.
Which one do you like the most?
Tanzania, I’ve been going there almost every year for fourteen years. There has been an Italian missionary there since 2008; we know each other, understand each other, and when I give him money, he always does what he wants.
When a person regularly goes to the place of missions, he can perceive how things are changing there; for example, in a place where there was only a bush, suddenly there is a well or a school.
Are you thinking about going to work as a missionary?
Yes, but to a certain extent, I confirm that I can help missionaries more from here – through sermons, videos on YouTub,e or personal contacts. They mostly need money, and people are more likely to support specific projects or missionaries. They need to have a “clutch” at home.
If you could go, where would it be?
Since I know English, an English-speaking country would suit me. I want to go and see Australia again, but that is more of a curiosity. I thought about Tanzania above for some time, which grew close to my heart.
Well, the fact is that our archdiocese does not have extra priests, so I am here and will support missionaries from Slovakia for the time being.
Today it started nicely: “Look at the temple, how beautifully it is decorated!” (Lk 21, 5-19) It probably was; some consider it a wonder of the world at that time. With a few words, Jesus directed attention to a broader horizon. And from the admiration of the beauty of the temple, a rather ugly description of the world arose: war, persecution, betrayal by those closest to you; even heaven and earth are not what they used to be.
Isn’t it a bit close to us too? We are not doing the worst. But if we look up from our “temple,” that is, from what we like, what brings us joy, and look at the broader horizon, we will find that it is almost precisely as Jesus said: wars, persecution of Christians on the enormous scale in history, betrayal. And today, more than ever, we also talk about the fact that neither heaven nor earth is what it used to be. Jesus’ contemporaries asked him when everything would end. But it wasn’t just their question. It seems to be a regular part of humanity. It doesn’t have to be a religious question. Sometimes we wonder when this or that regime will end. Other times we ask when our pains, my sufferings will end.
Some theologians say that the religious question about the end has morphed into a secular, civil question – e.g., in the form of Marxism. By abolishing personal property and class society, he wanted to end one stage of humanity and gradually establish paradise. But not only Marxism is a recasting of the question of the end. Liberal democracy also believed that an era of well-being and contentment would begin after the end of the Cold War, i.e., after over, coming to the division of the world into two camps. And advertising also works with the question of the end and the beginning of the new: it promises us that if we buy their products, we will look perfect, a qualitatively new era will begin for us, or joint pain or something else will subside. That is why it is good to understand how the Bible deals with the question of the end. We probably won’t decipher it enough, but we can summarize something.
I will mention three dimensions in particular.
1. The Bible is skeptical that man and humanity could create a paradise on earth. Yes, in the Apocalypse, it is written that at the end,d there will be a new earth and a new heaven where there will be no more tears, suffering,g or death. But these new heavens and earth will be created by God, not man. However, even though the Bible is skeptical of an artificial paradise, ss knows about our great inner possibilities to approach God’s kingdom on earth. And he invites us to let these possibilities grow, to consciously use them for such building, even if the result will not be perfect and eternal.
2. Today’s gospel is an excellent call to believe not only the preachers of fear but also those who have clear solutions – who are the only ones who know where to run. Today it is also a warning against those who know what others should do, who know who their enemies are.. And there are still enough such people today; I don’t need to convince you. “Do not follow them!” – that was Jesus’ instruction. There is always something to do in the fight against our selfishness and stupidity, so we don’t have to run anywhere.
3. Faced with the onslaught of all possible threats and difficulties, a person can wait with his head bowed for it to come somehow crashing down. However, the Gospel does not give instructions for such an attitude. On the contrary – Jesus’ speech about the judgment before which we will stand is about taking personal responsibility for what we do and what path we walk. This is the complete opposite of resignation or withdrawing into your world.