Gospel Reflection: Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

THIRTY- THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

NOVEMBER 15, 2015

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Be vigilant at all times and pray

that you have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Gospel of Saint Mark 13: 24-32

Jesus said to his disciples:
In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds‘ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.  When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near.  In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.

Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The Gospel of the Lord

REFLECTION

Both the first reading from the Book of Daniel and the Gospel according to Saint Mark begin with the same words: In those days….  This expression is indicative of a certain form of Sacred Scripture called Apocalyptic Literature.  When reading this literary form it appears that the author is speaking about future events, but in the case of Daniel the events are already part of Israel’s past.  In the case of the Gospel, while Jesus looks forward to the great power and glory of God that will be demonstrated in His Death and Resurrection, Mark’s community already knows that Jesus died and rose from the dead, and is anxiously awaiting Christ’s return in glory.   So what is the purpose of Apocalyptic Scriptural writing, and what relevance did it have for early Christians, and what relevance does it have for us?

We do not know the day or hour for the end-times, but we do know that our present suffering and witness to Jesus has an effect on our future and the future of the world.  Apocalyptic Scripture calls us to faithfulness despite the odds or consequences! Every age experiences challenges and persecution in practicing faith.  Today, our secularized society strongly attempts to marginalize us and our beliefs, as if faith in Jesus Christ is irrelevant for a scientifically self-serving and consumer insatiable culture.

As the Liturgical year draws to a close, and Advent is about to begin, the Church in her Liturgy directs our attention to our final days and our eternal destiny.  At the same time, society will strongly push us into the annual buying frenzy they call, Holiday Shopping!   This tension manifests the contrast between a society that concentrates on the things of this world, and the Church that focuses on the Mystery of Eternity!

Yet, these times are more confrontational than the naive would like to believe.  It is not a matter of live and let live; Christ has already been taken out of Christmas, and now the aggressive culture wants all of us to conform to its ways!  In Daniel’s time, the Jews were being forced to give up their religious practices or face death!  In Mark’s time, Christians were persecuted for believing in Christ and His way of living.  In our time, while swords have not yet been used on us, our families and faith communities suffer violent pressure to conform to immoral activity and to keep our Christian teachings to ourselves and not to raise Gospel values in the public square.

In times of intense challenge and persecution, Apocalyptic Scripture proclaims its voice of hope and confidence in God!   In the midst of a darkened sun, a moon without light and stars that fall from the sky – and even if all hell breaks loosethe Son of Man (is) coming in the clouds with great power and glory …. (and will) gather his elect!  No matter how difficult things get, no matter how strong the forces of evil appear, Jesus Christ is Lord and is always with us!  In the midst of a decaying society the tender shoots of new growth in faith are already growing – we witnessed that at the gathering of families.  The Holy Spirit is already kindling the fire of His love, creating a new generation of faith, and renewing the face of the earth!

The dynamic duo of Daniel & Mark assures us that God is ever vigilant and attentive to the needs of His people.   As Jesus proclaims: He and His words will not pass away!  Jesus Christ, the Word of God is all powerful and eternal!

          And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age!          

(Matthew 28:20)

 

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

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