Homily from the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B
In just two weeks, we’ll begin a new liturgical year as it will be the First Sunday of Advent. And as is tradition, as we approach the end of the liturgical year, we hear readings that focus on the end times.
These are not pleasant readings to listen to. They talk about “a time unsurpassed in distress.” (Dn 12:1) “The sun will be darkened... the moon will not give its light... the stars will be falling from the sky... the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Mk 13:24-25)
Every so often, we hear predictions about the end of the world. You may remember last year, there was a gentleman who predicted the end of the world in May. Then when the world didn’t happen, he revised his prediction and said that there was a “spiritual judgment” in May and that they actual end of the world would happen in October. Then the world didn’t end in October either.
There are end of the world predictions all the time. However, in today’s Gospel, Jesus assures us that no prediction about the end of the world carries any credence. “Of that day, or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
I think the point Jesus is trying to make here is not that we should be ready for his second coming on any particular day, but rather to be ready for his second coming each and every day. We should prepare ourselves spiritually for Christ’s arrival and judgement as if it would happen this very day. Because regardless of when the world will come to an end, be it this year or four billion years from now, all of us will one day soon see the face of Christ and be judged by him.
This will, of course, take place on the last day we spend here on earth. When our earthly lives come to an end and we pass from this world into the next. And that day could come seventy years from now or it could come today.
Are we prepared to see the face of Christ today?
Perhaps that day seems terrifying. Perhaps it sounds like the prophet Daniel’s description of the end of the world in our first reading when he says “it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress.” However, for those who are spiritually prepared, the end of days is not a threat, but a promise. The prophet Daniel promises, “At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book... the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” (Dn 12:1-3) And in the Gospel, Jesus promises, “the Son of Man... will send out his angels and gather his elect.”
As we come to the end of one liturgical year and prepare to begin another, let us be mindful of the reality of the end of our life here on earth and prepare to begin another.