Nov 17 2019 Reflection
Sunday 17 November 2019
First Reading: MAL 3:19-20A
The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
PS 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
Second Reading: 2 THES 3:7-12
Gospel Reading: LK 21:5-19
Today’s Note: Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
. . . so that you might imitate us. (2 Thessalonians 3:9)
Have you ever heard of mirror neurons? They’re those tiny little cells in our brains that fire up whenever we’re around someone else. Sometimes very faintly, but other times with great force, these neurons prompt us to imitate whomever we are with. When we see someone happy or sad or angry, it’s our mirror neurons that help us share in that person’s feelings and thoughts. These neurons offer scientific proof to Aristotle’s theory that we human beings are “the most imitative of all living creatures” (Poetics, IV).
No wonder St. Paul told the Thessalonians that he and his companions tried to be role models! It was “so that you might imitate us,” he wrote (2 Thessalonians 3:9). Paul knew that the Thessalonians had a much better chance of staying close to the Lord if they saw other people trying to do the same thing. He knew that our environment can have a very strong effect on the ways we think, the values we adopt, and the priorities we set for our lives.
This doesn’t mean that we are merely robots imitating everyone around us. We are still free human beings, each with our own unique personality. But it does mean that we are meant to live in community. We need the example of fellow believers to help us grow in our faith. And just as important, our brothers and sisters need the witness of our faith for their growth. The more we see holiness in action, the more encouraged we will be to keep pursuing Jesus ourselves.
Of course, we know who Jesus took as his role model. “A son cannot do anything on his own,” he told us, “but only what he sees his father doing” (John 5:19). Because Jesus kept his heart fixed on his heavenly Father, everything he said and did sprang from his Father’s goodness and love—even his self-sacrificial death on the cross.
So do your mirror neurons a favor. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and your brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Jesus, help me to imitate you in all that I do.”