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. These are readings that can move us to reflect back on the past year recall the condition of our spiritual life then as compared to now. Is our spiritual life better now than it was a year ago? If it is, give thanks to God, and pray for the grace and mercy to continue to grow closer to Him. If it’s not, ask the Lord for his mercy and grace, thank him for his patience, and call upon the Lord to bless you with the grace you need to change direction.
The readings are about the end times and the judgement and chastisements that will come during those times. They are about the need to be attentive to the signs that point to the Second Coming. Yet, as Jesus speaks of signs to be watchful of, he makes it clear that no one knows the day or the hour, only his Heavenly Father. Every few years some individual or group seem to get the attention of the media with their calculations of the exact time of the second coming, and it seems that every month or so there is something on the internet indicating that the signs are all pointing to the end. The predicted days come and go, and we are still here.
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 an exercise in futility and a distraction from paying attention to what really matters in our relationship with the Lord. The point is that rather than trying to calculate the date and time and of the Second Coming. Rather than getting so caught up in looking for signs, we need to look at ourselves and our relationship with the Lord. How is that relationship today? Is it better than it was yesterday? Last month? A year ago?
Each of the three readings gives us a brief 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 that Jesus made for us that leads to our being made perfect. This is meant to lead us to a 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.
These three brief instructions take time to make our own, probably a lifetime. It is a lifetime of growing in wisdom and leading others to justice. It includes experiences of joy and sorrow, of times when we walk in faith, and we stumble as we try to be attentive to God’s presence. Most importantly, it is a lifetime of experiencing God’s mercy. The lifelong recognition that we can’t do it ourselves, we are not our own savior, only Jesus save us. This is the mercy all of us need as we look back at the past Church Year, and gaze ahead to the future. The mercy to forgive us of our sins and failures, and the mercy that motivates us to live each day in joyful preparation to greet the Lord when we meet him face to face.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Artwork: Allegory of Justice, Gaetano Galdolfi, 1734-1802