Daniel 12; 1 – 3; Hebrews 10: 11 – 14, 18; Mark 13: 24 – 32
This Sunday is the last ordinary Sunday of Ordinary Time. Next weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King which marks the end of the Church year. As we near the end of the Church year the readings have us focus on the end of the world. There are those who take great interest in calculating the exact time of the end. Every few years some individual or group seem to get the attention of the media with their calculations, and it seems that every month or so there is something on the internet that the signs are all pointing to the end. The predicted days come and go, and we are still here.
It seems that Jesus was not as concerned about us knowing the exact time, as he was our living each day as if it were our last. In the Gospel Jesus speaks about tribulations and signs, about “the Son of man coming in the Clouds.” He speaks of angels and of the elect and that “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” This leaves us wondering what Jesus meant by “generation”? Did he mean those of his time, or a much broader sense? Jesus follows that statement by telling them that no one knows the day or the hour, not even Jesus, only his heavenly Father.
We don’t know when the end of the world is coming, and the Church has never made an announcement calling all Catholics to prepare for a particular day. Being caught up in speculation and spending time in trying to figure out the exact day is both and exercise in futility, and a distraction of what we should really be paying attention to in our lives. There are so many things that we need to do in our personal lives to prepare for Christ’s coming in glory. Each of the three readings gives us instruction on how to prepare for the second coming.
In Daniel we are told that we should seek to be wise and lead others to justice. In Hebrews we are taught about the one offering for sins and that the consecration given to us by Jesus through his one offering leads to our being made perfect. With this is our personal experience of the forgiveness of our sins. In the Gospel Jesus tells us to be attentive to the signs of God’s presence, and of his word. This short list takes a long time to make our own, probably a lifetime. It is a lifetime of growing in wisdom and leading others to justice. It is a lifetime that includes experiences of joy and sorrow. It is a life time of walking in faith, and at times stumbling as we try to be attentive to God’s presence. Most importantly, it is a lifetime of experiencing God’s mercy. This mercy is truly appreciated when we honestly acknowledge that we are sinners, and that we are the ones who make the decision to live virtuously or to sin. It is the realization that we cannot forgive our sins that it is only God who can forgive our sins. When we humbly place ourselves in the mercy of God each day, and even throughout each day, we are preparing for the end of the world. This might be either the glorious second coming of Christ for all, or just for us at the hour of our death. May we seriously prepare for that day, whenever it is, so that Christ may greet us with joy and welcome us into his presence.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.