A Reflection for 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B).
Daniel 12:1-3 – Hebrews 10:11-14,18 – Mark 13:24-32.
Dear brothers and sisters, as leaves fall these days, they signal the end of the season of Autumn and the approach of Winter. With the depth of Winter comes the end of the calendar year and the beginning of another year. Also coming to an end is the current liturgical year, and we prepare ourselves now for the next one. On this Sunday (the last one before the Solemnity of Christ the King), the Church invites us to pause before we begin the new liturgical year and to ponder the ending of the temporal world. The fading and dying of this year’s growth and fruition in nature prefigures for us our own natural end and the coming of the end of the temporal world. The prospect directs our attention towards the Last Judgement and the coming of Our Lord in all His glory.
discussion. Some people tend to avoid or postpone those discussions indefinitely, while others like to air their differing ideas about it. Many are scared about what exactly is going to happen to each of us and to the world at the end. Every age has its share of false prophets and doom-mongers (cf. Mk 13:22), scaremongering and predicting calamities and horrors. Our Lord’s message is quite the opposite of theirs! Rather, He wants to console us, to reassure us, to give us hope and encouragement in the throes of life’s difficulties. God is on our side (Heb 13:6), and we have His sure and certain promises that He will see us through our present troubles: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11) and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things [will] have passed away (Rev 21:4).
How do today’s readings paint a picture of the end?
In the 1st reading, Daniel gives us a picture of the resurrection of the dead, a snapshot of life beyond the grave. As Christians, we know that the grave is not the end of us. After physical death there comes a reckoning (Rom 14:12) of how wisely we have lived in this present existence, and how well we have served God out of love for Him.
The Gospel reading gives us a picture of the Second Coming of the Son of Man (which is how Jesus often referred to Himself) with great power and glory (v.26). Then He will send out the heavenly host to bring in from all over the world the people who acknowledge Him as Lord, who love Him and who serve Him. No-one knows when all of this will happen, but Jesus has told us that before this heavenly harvest takes place, there will be times of terrible hardship. during which we should not give up hope in God but stand firm in readiness.
What is your response to the message about the end of your life and the end of time?
We are all on earthly pilgrimage. We hold fast to the promises that, at the end of this pilgrimage, we may be granted an imperishable crown (1Cor 9:24f) of glory (1Pet 5:4) and rejoicing (1Thess 2:19) and life (Rev 2:10) in and with God. When someone dies, their earthly journey ends and eternity begins. Physical death may come upon us at any time, and so we’ve got to be prepared for the particular judgement. While it is impossible to be sure that we can avoid sudden death, what we can do is to take steps against our physical end being an unprepared death. How? By living each day as if it were our last, and by keeping our thoughts on God’s gift to us of eternal life and the joy of heaven. Today’s readings are intended to focus our minds on the real purpose of our earthly life, to encourage us to foster the spiritual life and grow strong in it. The message for us is to ‘Be Prepared’ – like the Scout motto – which in practice for us Christians means that we have to be ready in mind and body, soul and spirit. Get ready!
with celebrations. People also know that they have to make preparations for Winter coming so that they can keep warm when its icy blasts arrive. In the same vein, as the end of the liturgical year approaches, Jesus urges us always to be ready for the conclusion of our spiritual journey, so that when our physical end does come, it will not take us by surprise and find our soul in a mess. If we are carrying God in our hearts at all times and wherever we go, the prospect of heaven will not come to us as a surprise! Our earthly end will come as a blossoming of the eternity towards which we have been working faithfully. That’s why it makes sense for each one of us to pause at this time of year and to do a spiritual stocktake. It is essential to check what our relationship with God is like at the moment, and discern where our hearts and genuine values lie, so that we have the opportunity to take remedial action as necessary.
I pray that, by the grace of God, none of us shall be found unprepared – rather, that we shall all be made perfect through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. God bless you! Amen.