18Nov 18 November. 33rd Sunday

1st Reading: Daniel (12:1-3)

Daniel’s vision about the end of time, including the resurrection of the dead

At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 16)

R.: You are my inheritance, O Lord!

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup,
you it is who hold my destiny in hand.
I set the Lord ever before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. (R./)

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body also rests secure;
because you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
nor let your faithful one see the Pi. (R./)

You will show me the path to life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand is delight forever. (R./)

2nd Reading: Hebrews (10:11-14, 18)

Christ offered a single sacrifice for sins that is valid for all time

Every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,” he also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Gospel: Mark (13:24-32)

Be prepared for the second coming of Christ

Jesus said to his disciples, “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell 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 about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

BIBLE

 


Caring for our world

These days, we tend to be fearful about the environment, the future of the planet and, consequently, about our own future as a species. The underlying anxiety permeates a good deal of our public and private discourse. An acute example is the pollution of the oceans, which already affects fish stocks and the food chain… he “Little Apocalypse” of Mark 13 requires interpretation. Given that the meaning is not literal, what is being affirmed? That creation, evolution and history are not random, despite what we might think. Dennis O’Driscoll’s intuition in  “Missing God” captures it vividly. See Kieran O’Mahony’s commentary on this Sunday’s Readings.

 


Caring for here and now

Just a few thoughts on the readings, from Joe O’Leary:

1. The urgent eschatological message of Jesus is often read in a rather unhelpful way. We hear it as saying, “Life is short, get your work done, put your books in order so that they can bear the Lord’s inspection.” This just generates a paralyzing panic. Do we really need the Gospel to tell us “it’s later than you think!”?

2. This way of hearing the Gospel is individualistic, too closely linked to my ambition, my success, how people will remember me. But the Kingdom of God is not an individual achievement. It is a communal reality, that we build up as we realize inclusive community. We are not isolated individuals fighting desperately for success and recognition in the depths of a bunker. We are part of a great community, the Church, which despite bumpy ups and downs has an inexhaustible force of renewal within her, so that its life can blaze forth afresh at any time as it strives forward to its ultimate destination. In this month of November we think of the further stretches of that community. The Communion of Saints includes those saints who have gone before us, and whose prayers sustain us.

3. Echatology should not lead us to think of the future at the expense of the present. Of the ultimate heavenly future we have no clear idea, and must leave it all to God in trust. The Gospel assures us of a gracious future, but more than that it refers us to the present, where we will find the Kingdom of God at work in our midst.

4. Eschatological awareness translates into living to the full here and now, that is, living for the Kingdom and letting it draw our aspirations and efforts into its joyful service. Hence the importance of purification of motive, as we are told at the threshold of the Gospel: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33).

Rather than fret about our work and the little time we have left, we should let God work in us. To work for ourselves is to bury our talent in a dark place; to work for the Kingdom is to tap into the greatest of forces and to find our efforts bear real, lasting fruit.

When the Lord returns…

Metaphors like “burning our boats” or “burning our bridges,” refer to a radical option allowing for no turning back. Having your lamp alight is a gentler image, but still a good one, for meeting the challenge of life. “What shall the future be?” is the question posed in both Old and New Testament. Where is our world headed – socially, politically, environmentally? And of more direct concern to each one personally, what will my own destiny be? When the final day will come, no one knows. And just as well, for it would be difficult knowledge to cope with. But Jesus wants us ready to meet him, whenever he comes. Welcoming him is what makes us Christians, sharing the spirit of his first followers who said “Maranatha” — “Our Lord, come !” We are invited to live here and now with an awareness of eternity, seeing this life as preparation for an endless life with God.

The faster our cars become, it seems, the more we have to spend time waiting for the lights to change to green. The queue and the traffic-jam are signs of our times. The more we are in a hurry the more we feel held up. We travel at speed through the air, but wait interminably at airports. Business life is punctuated with frustrating times waiting for appointments. How do we wait? Sometimes with great impatience, sometimes with anxiety. But our waiting can also be coloured with joyful expectation. Expectation is often more pleasurable than realization. As Shakespeare said, “All things that are, are with more pleasure chased than enjoyed.”

How should a believer await the coming of the Lord? Thoughtfully and carefully: We will have to give an account of all our actions – and of what we have failed to do. The books must be in order. Actively, with our lamps burning, not asleep. We have to keep on until the end. Joyfully, for if we are ready, then it is a joy to await the bridegroom and enter into the marriage feast. Hopefully, for we await him who in his one sacrifice lives to make intercession for our sins. In him we have confidence. He comes to reward us who have remained faithful and whose names are written in the book of life.

Our vision of the last things should not sink us in pessimism, or despair at our sinfulness. But the question should be asked: How ready are we? Our faith tells us that some generation in history will experience the second coming of Christ. Then a person may have but a moment to wonder: “Am I ready? Am I prepared? Even if ours is not the generation to see the second coming, still each of us must face our personal day, death. For some it comes unexpectedly, out of the blue, even perhaps at a young age. For others it will be fairly predictable and follow the more natural course of ageing and decline. Regardless, there will be a time when each must ask the question: “Am I ready? Am I prepared? Meanwhile, we are faced with multiple choices to make each day which may seem insignificant; but they all add up pointing us in particular directions, sometimes good, sometimes less so. Are our everyday decisions helping to make us ready? Are they making us prepared?

With the busy-ness of life it is easy to forget about the second coming of Christ. We prefer to ignore our mortality and put off our preparation for the death which we all must face. How do we prepare ourselves? How do we get ready? How will we be sure that the Lord recognizes us? What are the right choices to make during our day? The end of chapter 25 reads: “Then the king will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Although we do not know the day or the hour of the second coming of Christ, Although we do not know the day or the hour of our own deaths, we have been told what staying awake entails. It seems that if we meet the response from the Lord: “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you, it will be because of our foolishness and not because of a lack of mercy or justice on the part of the Lord.


Machtnamh: Nuair a fhillfidh an Tiarna (When the Lord returns)

Déanann nathanna cainnte cosúil le “ár mbáid a dhó” nó “ár gcuid droichid a dhó,” tagairt do rogha radacach gan ligean ar ais. Is mánla nó níos séimhe an ceann, go bhfuil baint aige le lampa, a deireann , ach fós ceann éifeachtach, chun dúshlán na beatha a chomhlíonadh. “Cad atá i ndán dúinn amach anso?” Sin í an cheist tugadh sa Sean-Tiomna agus sa Tiomna Nua. Cén bóthar atá romhainn? Cén bóthar a ghabhfaidh an saol sóisialta, an saol polaitiúil agus an timpeallacht? Agus an rud is goire don chroí cad i ndán domhsa cad iad na dualgaisí atá orm féin? Nuair a thiocfaidh clabhsúr ar an saol cá bhfios? Is fearr amhlaidh “más maith is mithid” mar ba dheacair plé leis. Ach sé is mian le hÍosa go mbeimis dílis dó cuma cathain a thagann sé. Is dual dúinn, Críostaithe, ár gcuid féin a dhéanamh de mana lucht leanta Íosa i dtús ré , “Maranatha” – “Tar chugainn, aThiarna, tar chugainn!” Tugtar cuireadh dúinn ár saol a chaitheamh de shíor faoi thionchar ghrásta Dé agus súil againn leis an mbeatha síorraí.

2 Responses

  1. Joe O'Leary

    1. The urgent eschatological message of Jesus is often read in a rather unhelpful way. We hear it as saying, “Life is short, get your work done, put your books in order so that they can bear the Lord’s inspection.” This just generates a paralyzing panic. Do we really need the Gospel to tell us “it’s later than you think!”?

    2. Also, this way of hearing the Gospel is individualistic, too closely linked to my ambition, my success, how people will remember me. But the Kingdom of God is not an individual achievement. It is a communal reality, that we build up as we realize inclusive community. We are not isolated individuals fighting desperately for success and recognition in the depths of a bunker. We are part of a great community, the Church, which despite bumpy ups and downs has an inexhaustible force of renewal within her, so that its life can blaze forth afresh at any time as it strives forward to its ultimate destination.
    In this month of November we think of the further stretches of that community. The Communion of Saints includes those saints who have gone before us, and whose prayers sustain us.

    3. The eschatological message should not lead us to think of the future at the expense of the present. Of the ultimate heavenly future we have no clear idea, and must leave it all to God in trust. The Gospel assures us of a gracious future, but more than that it refers us to the present, where we will find the Kingdom of God at work in our midst.
    4. Eschatological awareness translates into living to the full here and now, that is, living for the Kingdom and letting it draw our aspirations and efforts into its joyful service. Hence the importance of purification of motive, as we are told at the threshold of the Gospel: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33).
    Rather than fret about our work and the little time we have left, we should let God work in us. To work for ourselves is to bury our talent in a dark place; to work for the Kingdom is to tap into the greatest of forces and to find our efforts bear real, lasting fruit.

  2. Pádraig McCarthy

    Eschatology is very much part of life today – just do an internet search for “Disaster Films” – natural disasters, asteroid collisions, alien invasions, human-caused events, diseases, the living dead, etc.

    As Joe says, eschatological awareness translates into living to the full here and now, that is, living for the Kingdom and letting it draw our aspirations and efforts into its joyful service.

    Jesus acknowledges the fears/expectations of people, but defuses them beautifully. Nobody knows the day, so it’s futile to let it dominate your life.
    I like particularly how he counterbalances national or global disaster with an unexpected sign of hope: the unfurling of a fig leaf! Learn to be aware of such signs of hope in the face of even the whole world falling apart.

    The word “learned” in the first reading in the Lectionary (Jerusalem Bible) is better understood as wise, as in the translation given above. It’s not “learned” (two syllables) as in much studied and educated, but “learned” (one syllable) – how we learn to live in and be aware of the signs of the times, even and especially the most seemingly insignificant signs.

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