Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

33rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: REFLECTING ON THE END-TIME

Mk 13:24-32

 

AS THE LITURGICAL year comes to its close, we are invited by the Church to reflect on some crucial matters. She directs our attention to the end time. Reflecting on this thing is not easy because it is frightening. However, we should not feel that way because, on the contrary, this future event gives us hope.

Let us try to examine and see some important points that the gospel teaches:

Firstly, Jesus talks about the end of the world. He makes a description that “the moon will not give its light,” “stars will fall from the sky,” and “powers in the heavens will be shaken.” This could be a reason why some people interpret every world disaster in our time as sign that the world is coming to its end. Earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis are some of the examples. But, are these indeed signs of the end?  Well, biblical scholars explain that this description of the end of the world is part of the so-called apocalyptic eschatology. On one hand, it entails “destruction” of the present world, and on the other hand, it includes “resurrection” of the faithful to a happy life in the future world.

Secondly, in connection to the end of the world, Jesus will come to judge us. The gospel graphically describes the Second Coming of Christ this way: The Son of Man will come in the clouds “with great power and glory” and will send out the angels and gather the elect.  Like the destruction of the world, the coming of Christ may also be feared because of the concomitant “judgment” that He brings. Indeed, our human experience of “judgment days” is often scary. For a student, as an example, the return of examination papers can be terrifying because he will be judged according to his performance in the exams.

Thus, the end of the world and the Last Judgment are fear-filled. They are indeed scary. It is for this reason that we don’t want to discuss these topics. However, as I have said above, these matters are a source of our hope. How?

On the one hand, the destruction of the present world would mean an emergence of a new one. It is true that the world that we live is not a perfect world. It is not a peaceful world. It is not a just world. Corruption and sin are everywhere. If the end of the world would mean destruction, then, we can be hopeful because it would be replaced by something which is better. As the Father of the Church named Origen says, it is a restoration or a re-establishment of the original harmony in creation. Thus, the end means a beginning of a new one, and we are hopeful towards it.

On the other hand, the Last Judgment can also be a source of hope. In the final analysis, it is not something to be feared. It would be a fulfillment of our longings. It is a moment of truth. It can only be fearful or scary if we have not done something to make this moment a happy one. If we failed here on earth, then, there is a reason to be afraid of.  A student who does not study before the examination knows from the beginning that he would fail. Naturally, a day of judgment will be terrifying for him. But if the student prepares well for the exams, he is confident that good thing awaits him. The “judgment day” is something he looks forward to. Thus, if we think that we done enough to make ourselves good, then, the Last Judgment is something we hope for.

Jesus tells us that no one knows the day or the hour of his Second Coming. Hence, what shall we do then? I think we need to strive always to be good. During autumn, leaves fall and during winter, trees are frozen. It would mean destruction and death. But when spring comes, leaves begin to sprout. It would mean that a new life has begun anew. We should learn something from this cycle. In the same manner, we are called this time to conversion. When we destroy our old self, a new self will come to pass. If we try to live as good Christians, and fulfill our Christian responsibilities, we can be hopeful. Our future with Christ will be promising. AMEN.


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