Vol.5 No.10 DoM Gospel Reflection
33rd Sunday Ordinary Time—November 15, 2015
By Kathleen Willis
Ordinary Time is the longest season in the Catholic Church and is now coming to an end. This is the last Sunday of the year before Christ the King at which time we will begin again to renew ourselves with God, the one who is in control, the one who is accountable and the one who will come again. There is much to take in and reflect upon in this gospel reading from Mark, and after much prayer and discernment, I am ready to share my gospel reflection with you.
Mark’s gospel stresses Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God–now breaking into human life as good news and Jesus himself as the gospel of God. God sent his only Son to rescue humanity by serving and sacrificing his life for our sins as stated in the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews: “For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.” Mark Chapter 13 has an apocalyptic tone and is a discourse filled with promises and forewarnings to be watchful and alert. This is significant for Mark’s gospel, for it helps one see that God, in Jesus, will be victorious after the cross and at the end of history. So, what can this gospel mean to us as Daughters of Mary?
Let’s begin by first gaining insight into Mark’s apocalyptic tone used. In Greek the word apokalupsis, which comes from apokalupto, means an uncovering or revealing. What then is apocalyptic language or literature? To keep it simple, apocalyptic literature reveals to us a new truth from something old. This literature is characterized by three key elements; it is an account of great military struggle, it contains accompanying signs and wonders in heaven, and it has a survival of a remnant of true believers. The apocalypse or end times is one of the most broadly written about perspectives and it is easy to get caught up in deciphering its symbolic and fascinating language. The Book of Daniel was the first of this apocalyptic literature. Today’s first reading is from Daniel 12:1-3 which sets before us the fact that the world will com to an end marked by great disorder and tragedy which will be followed immediately by a new and eternal existence.
What is Jesus revealing to us in Mark’s gospel passage? Here Jesus speaks of the future–the end times, His second coming, and our final judgement day. He speaks of signs and symbolism, and challenges his disciples to learn a lesson from the fig tree. “When its branches become tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates” (Mk 13:28-29). How can we apply this to our lives today? The lesson is, if we regard with holy acuteness even the seemingly minuscule signs such as that of the fig tree, we can answer God’s call to new growth in His Kingdom on earth. What does this future coming actually mean to us today in this very moment? God in his mercy calls on each one of us to always be ready and alert for His second coming. He wants us to live a faithful and purposeful life, so that we do not have to be fearful of the sun and moon being darkened, the stars falling from the sky and the powers in heaven being shaken. While we have no control over the hour of his second coming and final judgement, we do have control over the state of our relationship with God each and every day.
What is more important to note is when Jesus states, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” As conveyed in this Sunday’s second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, Christ himself gave us the one true and perfect sacrifice, and it is through His words that we have eternal happiness. Let us take a moment to reflect on the “Our Father,” particularly the part that states “Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” While there is a literal Kingdom of God we on earth patiently wait for, there is a spiritual kingdom in which God rules in the heart of all believers, here, on earth, now. We do not have to wait for it and we do not have to die from this earth to be received into it. The Kingdom of God is within each of us. Have we embraced it in our daily lives or are we consumed and preoccupied by things of this world? Do we trust in too many materialistic things for building our lives–possessions, pleasures and power—things we can not take with us from this world when our time has come.
“But of the day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
This gospel reading can open our hearts, minds and eyes to a new way of loving, thinking and living our lives with Christ each day. It reveals the importance of not seeing judgement day and that of entering God’s Kingdom as being far away, but rather concentrating on living each day as though it is our last. Our final day or hour is not known to us and that is okay. God calls us to live imperfectly in His Kingdom and wants us to meet him here even in the middle of our tribulations. Each time we celebrate Mass we take a step into God’s Kingdom. We are to recognize that each day is a day of judgement of our own humanity and personal goodness. How does your heart and mind long for goodness? What is the state of your conscience? Each and every day God gives us the opportunity to repent for our sins, to live by the gospels and meet him in his earthly Kingdom.
The Magnificat Monthly Volume 17, No. 9 November 2015
The New American Bible Catholic Press