1st Reading – Malachi 3:19-20a (Malachi 4:1-2a in all translations but the New American Bible)
This book gets its name from the phrase in 1:1 which is translated in 3:1. Malachi 1:1 says “The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi” and 3:1 says “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way for me.” Malachi means “my messenger.” Who this messenger was, no one knows. He is believed to have written this book after the rebuilding of the Temple (515 B.C.) and before the reform work of Esdras (458 B.C.).
Malachi is wholly concerned with the religious conditions of the Jewish community. He shows himself to be a patriotic Jew unable to tolerate mixed marriages lest the land become “unclean” from the “abominable and sensuous” types of worship common among the pagans. Staunchly loyal to his religion, he cannot remain silent at the sight of a priesthood that is ignorant, indulgent, and grasping. As a result, the people are very easygoing, and weak in the practice of their faith. Malachi energetically exhorts them – particularly the priests – to practice their religion in a more wholehearted manner, based on the love of God.
The author of Malachi, in his short book is best known for two of his prophecies: [3:1] “Behold, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me” which Jesus applies to John the Baptist in Matthew 11:10; and [4:5-6 (3:23 in the New American Bible)] “I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” which Jesus also applies to John the Baptist in Matthew 11:14.
Our reading for today is sandwiched between these two prophesies and deals with the triumph of the just. The problem of evil is that just men suffer and unjust men prosper.
2nd Reading – 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Today we conclude our three week study of 2 Thessalonians with Paul’s words of encouragement to this struggling community. Some have misunderstood the timing of the second coming and have even given up working in anticipation of the event.
Gospel – Luke 21:5-19
Again, recall that Jesus is now in Jerusalem for His passion. As is usual for Luke, Jesus is speaking publically in the Temple.