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33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Modern

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Gospel Luke 21: 5-19

As we near the end of the Church year we have readings that remind us that a day will come when the world will end. Unlike the end of the Church Year, calendar year, or academic year that have clearly defined dates to mark the beginning and end, the exact day and time for the end of the world is unknown to us. The end can be seen in two ways, the major event itself in which Christ Comes in glory, or our personal event when we breathe our last. How many times have you been shocked by the news of the death of someone who you had just spent time with and they were as healthy as could be. Whether by sudden illness or accident, they have passed on, most likely not knowing the day or hour when it was to occur.

It can be unnerving for us to know that a visitor is coming, or an event is going to happen and we don’t know when. If we know a visitor is coming in 10 days, we know that we can wait until the 9th to get everything ready, but if we don’t know when, then we must be in constant preparedness. The end of the world is that visitor, and it is referred to as the “Second Coming” because it is Christ, the alpha and omega, who is coming.

Jesus, himself, was asked about when the end of the world would take place in this Gospel. He pointed to signs that would take place but never gave a definite answer. In Matthew’s Gospel he makes it clear that we are not to know the time when he says; “you do not know the day or the hour.” The question continued to be asked and after the Resurrection it became more focused on when Christ would come again. The early Christians thought that the second coming would be soon, and even in Paul’s earlier writings he makes reference to it coming any day. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he advises the people to remain in their present state of married life or the single life, for “the world in its’ present form is passing away.” Paul’s later writings shift from the immediacy of the historical event, to the urgency of personal conversion.

The question continued to be asked, and still is asked, of when the end will take place. Every so often some individual or group makes a claim that they have figured it out and give some very specific date. So far, they have all been wrong, for we are still here. This is a lesson on how useless it is to spend time speculating about the end. Instead we should be focused on how we are living our lives. If Jesus were to come to me today, is my house in order? The observance of the end of the Church year gives us the opportunity to pause and to take stock of how we are living. Here are a few questions to reflect on during the closing weeks of this Church Year. Have I grown closer to the Lord? Am I a better Catholic today, then I was a year ago? Have I succeeded in diminishing some faults and sins during this past year? Have I improved my life of prayer? Am I more aware of opportunities to serve? Am I better at loving my neighbor as myself? We have the choice of sitting around twiddling our thumbs and wondering about Christ’s second coming, or we can get to work on our continuing conversion and be ready for whenever Christ may return.

Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.

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