Possible Preaching Themes
Possible Scientific Resources
  • The power of fire for refining elements and renewing the land (from the first reading); 
  • Living in the eye of a storm, in the midst of human and natural destruction (from the Gospel).

Homily Outline Combining Resources

Homily outline: Hurricanes and the reign of God 

  • Situating ourselves in the liturgical year
  • The liturgical year is an annual cycle of seasons and feasts.
  • It technically begins on the first week of Advent and ends with the Solemnity of Christ the King.
  • This Sunday we are close to the ending and beginning of a new year.
  • Already the liturgy and its lectionary texts are colored with notions of endings, something we do not have to wait for until next week.
  • Moreover, this “ending-beginning” lens does not evaporate after the feast of Christ the King.
  • To the contrary, images of endings and beginnings will carry over into the First Sunday of Advent.
  • This lack of a clear demarcation between the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of another is symbolic of our own life journey, continuously marked with endings and beginnings.
  • A scary Gospel
  • In today’s gospel Jesus predicts the destruction of the Jewish Temple with graphic language: “there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
  • Beyond the demolition of that beloved sanctuary, Jesus announces widespread unrest and turmoil,
    • nations rising against nations
    • even the created world wreaking havoc with earthquakes and famine.

Is Jesus just a prophet of doom, is he trying to scare his disciples into believing, or is there some other revelation here?

  • Luke’s gospel was written long after the predicted destruction of the Temple occurred at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD.
  • This key historical fact helps us understand that this passage is not a prediction of what is to come,
    • as much as a reflection on the loss and challenges, destruction, and death that punctuate the lives of every believer.
  • Such unsettling imagery is employed for its shock effect:  jolting believers into reckoning with God’s reign breaking forth all around us.
  • Living in the midst of hurricanes
  • While we might hear news about famines or plagues in other parts of the world, these are not our everyday experience.
  • The Gospel image of earthquakes might be closer to home, but major earthquakes in the continental U.S. are few and far between; the last was in Northridge California in 1994.
  • Hurricanes, however, are a growing threat to major US population centers.
    • The effects of hurricanes such as Katrina (2005), Sandy (202) and Harvey (2017) are still being felt;
    • the impact of hurricane Ian (2022) will last for decades.

Because they are so powerful, and can cause such destruction and loss of life

    • they are a focus of much scientific study.
    • Meteorologists observe and track hurricanes from their genesis to their dissipation.They read sea temperatures, wind velocity and other factors to predict their paths.

A hurricane alert system, first created by William Reid, has been in place since 1847 saving thousands of lives and prompting more rigorous standards for construction in hurricane zones.

    • People are more prepared. Constructions are stronger, people have time to evacuate, find safety and shelter.
    • More recently, the growing intensity and destructive power of hurricanes serves as a broader warning against climate change, and the need to be responsible stewards of creation.
  • The hurricanes of our shared and personal lives
    • While we all don’t live in hurricane zones, we understand the challenging and destructive winds of change that blow through our society and our lives.
    • Sometimes we experience calm – like the eye of a hurricane – but that calm is not insured.
    • Today’s liturgy calls us to be attentive to these challenges, but is not a summons to anxiety or fear.
    • On the contrary, Jesus presents himself as a sign of hope; he is the calm in the eye of the story:
      • providing wisdom in the face of judgment
      • love in the face of hatred
      • perseverance in the face of persecution
      • and protection in the face of adversity.
    • Jesus is our bedrock of hope, no matter what is ending and beginning in our lives,
      • something that must be cultivated and revealed in his body, the church.
    • We are a community of “spiritual meteorologists”:
      • assisting sisters and brothers to monitor the storms in their lives
      • providing shelter when that is necessary
      • pitching in to help rebuild when the inevitability of loss occurs
      • and acknowledging the breaking through of God’s reign in the joys and sorrows of our sometimes-turbulent existence.
    • Our faith does not promise a life of calm in the hurricane’s eye
      • But offers every hope that in mutual care and support we can weather any storm.
Tags: Destruction, Hope, Hurricanes, Norman Moran Rosero

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Preaching with Sciences

Edward Foley, Capuchin
Duns Scotus Professor Emeritus of Spirituality
Professor of Liturgy and Music (retired)
Catholic Theological Union
Vice-Postulator, Cause of Blessed Solanus