YEAR B: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: OUR FINAL DESTINY
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Mk 13:24-32
Message # 190: “Your Last Hour”
(TO THE PRIESTS, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, Marian Movement of Priests)
1. The Marian Message
a) The message of the Blessed Mother was given on the last day of the year. As the year ends, our thoughts are also directed to the last hour. This refers not only to the last moments of the year, or to the last minute of our lives. Rather it is “the hour of the great battle, the hour of the great immolation, the hour of the great victory” (letter h).
b) But the Blessed Mother is not foretelling any future event. Since she is already with God in eternity, there is no more past and future. Everything is in the present: “all has already been accomplished which, in time, is yet to take place” (letter i). The great battle, which we are preparing for, should not worry us: “everything has already been prepared for you by me.” There is nothing to fear and to worry about.
c) Finally, the Blessed Mother assures us of final victory and eternal glory if we continue “living and sacrificing yourselves for the glory of God. Here, I see you already in the glory which awaits you, at the end of your painful sufferings” (letter j). In other words, the last hour, or the end being talked about, is not something we should fear. Glory and victory await us, according to the plan of God and the motherly design of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
2. The Sunday Gospel
a) The liturgical year is about to end. Next Sunday is the last Sunday of the year, which is always the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King. After that, we enter the new liturgical year, which starts with the Season of Advent. It should not be surprising to hear the readings this Sunday talk about the end. The first reading is from the Book of Daniel, which is apocalyptic in character – describing in symbolic terms the end that is about to come. The Book of Daniel is the last book of the Old Testament to be written. Its purpose was to encourage the Jews who were facing persecutions in the hands of pagan oppressors.
b) The Gospel comes from the apocalyptic chapter of the Gospel written by St. Mark. In describing the Second coming of Jesus, it borrows images from the apocalyptic writings in the Old Testament: Ezekiel 32:7, Joel 2:10 and Isaiah 13:10.
c) One part of Theology is Eschatology – about the end-times. It comes from the Greek word “eschaton” (end). This refers specifically to the Second Coming of Jesus as Judge (Parousia) – “the Son of Man coming in the clouds” (indicating his divinity as mentioned in Ex 34:5, Lv 16:2 and Nm 11:25). His coming means the end of the present state of affairs: corruption, injustice, violence, poverty and misery; and the beginning of a new state of affairs, specifically the full establishment of God’s Kingdom: justice, peace, happiness, and final victory over evil. The end is also the beginning.
d) Eschatology reminds us of several very important realities in our life. First, our earthly life has its end. Even this world, in its present state, will also end. Nothing is permanent is this world. Second, the end is not something totally negative. For Christians, it is an opportunity for hope. In fact, we should look forward to it with eager longing. We know, it is the coming of our victorious Lord, and He will deliver us from the reign of evil. And finally, it is a reminder for us to remain faithful to the Lord while waiting for His glorious return. Eschatology highlights the virtues of hope, courage, perseverance, and fidelity to the Lord.
e) The end will surely come. But nobody knows when. Hence, apocalyptic literature serves a dual purpose: to encourage Christians to endure their present sufferings (hope and perseverance), and at the same time as a reminder to remain faithful to the Lord and steadfast in the faith for the end could suddenly come without any warning. Rather than frighten people, it is actually an encouragement and a loving reminder and exhortation to fidelity and commitment. With regards to those people who place a specific date in the future about the end-time, these are all false prophets. Jesus is very clear in the Gospel that only the heavenly Father knows the day or the hour (cf v.32).
f) The lesson of the fig tree refers to the season of spring, announcing the advent of summer. After a long and cruel winter, the branches of the tree begin to become tender, and soon enough sprouts grow. It is the end of a season of death, and the beginning of the season of life. It is a lesson of hope and joy for the imminent coming of the fullness of life.
g) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” The words of Jesus are eternal because He is God. His teachings and exhortations are beyond time: they are not part of the past, nor are they still going to happen in the future. They are in the present. His coming is not something in the remote future: “when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.” For Mark, his coming is very near, and is already part of the present.
3. Points for Reflection
a) As we grow older, we come to see death more often – family, friends and acquaintances dying. Some of them are even younger than us. Sudden deaths due to tragedies, calamities and accidents always shock us. These are very strong reminders of the brevity of life and the inevitability of death. We will all die. That is a very certain reality. Unfortunately, despite its certainty, most of us are not making any preparation for it. We try to ignore it, or altogether forget about it – until again somebody known to us dies, which is another fresh reminder for us about our own death at any given time.
b) There have been many talks, and even movies, about the end of the world. When talks like these come up, there are two things that we must consider. First, somebody is making money out of it. False prophets have only one intention: to take advantage of people. To believe them is to be vulnerable to their wily schemes of making money out of people’s naivety or stupidity. Second, when talks like these come up, it simply emphasizes the fact that the event referred to becomes more remote. Jesus has time and again said in the Gospel that the end will come, the Son of Man will come, when we least expect it. Let us not be alarmed when people talk about it. Let us be alarmed, and seriously prepared, when people do not mention about it or totally ignore it. Jesus will come when the people least expect it. It will be so sudden that nobody will have time to prepare. That was what happened in Noah’s time and also to Sodom and Gomorrah.
c) One sign that the Gospel mentioned about the coming of the Lord is mass apostasy – people in great numbers leaving the true Church, losing the true faith. Jesus asked: “When the Son of Man comes, will there be faith on the earth?” In other words, the sign that will tell us that Jesus is about to come is when the world has almost totally lost the true faith. And these are now the times. Errors have spread. False prophets and churches have spread all over the world. People in great numbers have turned away from the faith. This situation at present should wake us up and warn us. When somebody asks us when this event will happen, let us just reply with the words of a famous song: “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”
d) Everything ends. But the words of Jesus will not pass away. We hear these words often. Yet people just do not take it seriously. We believe the words of movie and TV personalities so easily. That is why we immediately buy the products they endorse in those TV commercials. We believe the words of the politicians who give us false promises and blatant lies. We believe the rumors spread by our neighbors and friends. We believe every text message on the cell phone or on the Internet. But many do not take seriously and would even willfully ignore the words of Jesus. And if ever we listen to his words, we do not act accordingly afterwards.
Prayer During these uncertain times, when the spiritual warfare is at its height, we take refuge in the Precious Blood of Jesus.
We pray the following Crusade Prayer:
THE SEAL OF THE LIVING GOD O My God, My Loving Father, I accept with love and gratitude Your Divine Seal of Protection.
Your Divinity encompasses my body and soul for eternity.
I bow in humble thanksgiving and offer my deep love and loyalty to You my Beloved Father.
I beg You to protect me and my loved ones with this special Seal and I pledge my life to Your service forever and ever.
I love You, Dear Father. I console You in these times, Dear Father.
I offer You the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son In atonement for the sins of the world and for the salvation of all Your children.
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Kung sakaling dumating na ang kamatayan, o ang pagbabalik ng Panginoon, nakahanda ka ba? Anong paghahanda ang ginagawa mo ngayon?
2. Ano ang nararamdaman mo o naiisip mo tuwing nakakabalita ka ng pagkamatay ng isang kamag-anak o kaibigan?
3. Kung tagumpay ang kahulugan ng muling pagdating ng Panginoon, kung kaligtasan ang dulot ng kamatayan, bakit tayo natatakot sa mga pangyayaring ito?