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Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 17, 2018

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

The reading from the Book of Daniel and the Gospel according to Saint Mark begin with the same words: In those days….  This expression indicates a certain form of Sacred Scripture called Apocalyptic Literature.  In this literary form it appears that the author is speaking about future events, but that is not the case.  In the reading from Daniel the events have already taken place. In the case of the Gospel, while Jesus looks forward to God’s great power and glory which will be manifested through His Death and Resurrection, Mark’s community already knows that Jesus has died and is risen, and He will return in glory. So what is the relevance of Apocalyptic Scripture for early Christians, and for us?

No one knows the day or hour for the end-times, but we do know that our present suffering and witness to Jesus effects our future and the future of the world. Through Apocalyptic Scripture we are called to be faithful despite the odds we face or the consequences!  In every age believers face challenges and persecution.  Today, our secularized society strongly attempts to marginalize us and our beliefs, claiming that Jesus Christ is irrelevant for today’s self-serving and consumer insatiable culture.

As this liturgical year draws to a close, the Church directs our attention to our final days and our eternal destiny.  Yet, at the same time our society is pushing us into the annual buying frenzy called, Holiday Shopping!   This tension manifests the contrast between concentrating on the things of this world, and focusing on Eternity!

We cannot afford to be asleep or naïve.  It is not a matter of live and let live. Christ has already been taken out of Christmas, and now the aggressive culture wants 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 dying for their faith.  In our time, while swords are not used, our families and faith communities suffer violent pressure to keep our Christian teachings to ourselves, and not to raise Gospel values in the public square.

In times of challenge and persecution, Apocalyptic Scripture proclaims hope and confidence in God!   In the midst of a dark sun and moon, and stars that fall from the sky – when all hell is breaking loose — the Son of Man (is) coming in the clouds with great power and glory …gathering his elect!  No matter how strong the forces of evil, Jesus Christ is Lord and is always with us!  Even now the tender shots of new growth are sprouting.  The Holy Spirit, the Fire of Love is 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! 

I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Prosit,

Monsignor Joseph Marino

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