The Portland Peninsula and Island Parishes
Homily for the
Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year
Reverend Kyle L. Doustou
November 13, 2016
I’m sure we’ve all heard the story of Chicken Little. There are a few different versions floating around, but the basic storyline centers around a little chicken who, after an acorn falls on his head, becomes absolutely convinced that the sky is falling and that the end-of-the-world is near. Stricken by fear, Chicken Little decides that the king must know about this, so he sets off on a journey to warn him. Along the way he scares the feathers off of several other barnyard fowl by telling them the news, and soon there’s a whole contingent of anxious and petrified birds making their way to see the king. All of this, of course, draws the attention of a certain cunning fox who knows darn well the sky isn’t falling and who decides to take advantage of the flustered featherheads. Playing into their fear and sense of urgency, the fox tells them that he knows the perfect shortcut to the king’s palace. The gullible birds follow him right to his den, only to end up on the dinner menu. The moral of the story: not everything is as it seems, so stay calm, discern wisely, and don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions.
Over the last several months we’ve been hit on the head by many acorns. Devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters; a contentious and deeply divisive election season; multiple mass shootings; violent protests…and the list could go on. Things just seem to be getting progressively worse around the world. And with all of these acorns falling, there is the lingering temptation to over assess the situation and to begin believing that the sky is falling. I’ve had more than a few people express their fear to me that it seems like we might be nearing “the end.” Now on the one hand we shouldn’t simply dismiss this possibility; after all, our Lord has assured us that there will be a definitive end to this world as we know it when He comes again in glory. But on the other hand, we want to remain sober and restrained in our discernment of signs and events in our world lest we lead others and ourselves down a fox hole.
In our Gospel today, Jesus speaks about the future destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, a sign that the old order is passing away and that the new covenant of His Blood is being established for all eternity. “All that you see here,” He says, “the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Though He is speaking about the Temple, He is also speaking about the end of time and reminds us that things are going to get difficult prior to His return: “Wars and insurrections…nations 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.” Now when we look around at our world, we see these things happening more and more. Does it mean we’re nearing the end? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe they’re just acorns or maybe the sky is actually falling. But quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter. Whether the world ends tomorrow or in a thousand years from now, the life and duty of the Christian remains the same: we love God, we love our neighbor, we confess and repent of our sins, we feed on His Body and Blood, and we live out each day striving for greater faith, greater hope, and greater love. This is what Jesus is getting at in our Gospel today. Whether things are going really well or whether they get really bad, whether it’s the end or not, we must persevere in our steadfast living out of His gospel.
So yes, things are crazy in our world right now. We can be like Chicken Little if we want and cause all kinds of imprudent, unhelpful panic as we over-analyze the current situation. Or we can honestly acknowledge the state of things and simply put our hands back to the plow and keep on keeping on. All of this is going away one day, but it doesn’t matter when. All that matters is that, when the Lord comes, He finds us faithful. So live out the Commandments, come to Mass, go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, say your prayers in the morning and at night, teach your children the faith, take care of the poor, and don’t worry so much about all the acorns. That’s why Jesus tells us that it is “by your perseverance you will secure your lives.” No panicking, no jumping to conclusions, just perseverance. We pray for this grace today as we come to the Lord’s altar.