Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
The Gospel today starts with a rather disturbing note. First, it shows us that Jesus could see the destruction of Jerusalem that happened in 70 AD, when the Romans occupied the city, ravaged it and left “no stone over another stone.” Many died during that occupation, and for the Jews it seemed to be the end of their world. The world did not end. Second, Jesus also tells us that the end of the world is real and will come at an hour nobody knows. The end of the world will happen not because God does not like the world, but because He wants it to be whole and perfect, and He wants us to be like Him in His Kingdom. He encourages us then to keep watch and be faithful to Him and to the Church.
Many people and some religious cults have predicted that the world would already end. As a child I remembered having heard people say that the end would come on a certain date. After a few years I heard it again; and again; and again. But our world is still here, and it doesn’t seem to see its end despite all the problems, wars, calamities and destructions. Jesus confirms this when He said: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mk 13:32). Certainly, in the end, no one will remain in this world to tell the story. Only the faithful will see the Words of Jesus accomplished in His Kingdom.
So Jesus keeps us thinking about the end in our time, to keep our focus on Him all the time. “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes 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” (Mk13:28-29). What a sweet note to hear that despite all the difficulties, trials and trouble in the world, Jesus is near.
- When your heart breaks because you realize your own sinfulness and the hurt you caused your neighbor and the Church, Jesus is near.
- When you feel sad because of the plight of the needy, the oppression of the poor and the persecution of the weak, Jesus is near.
- When war rages some place, and you feel the pain the victims experience, and all you can do is pray that somehow perpetrators and world leaders will be guided to talk about peace and work together to attain it, Jesus is near.
- When calamities happen somewhere, and you can only get in touch with the victims through prayers and assistance that you can extend, Jesus is near.
- When you feel you like to take a little more sleep on Sunday, and the bells in your heart are ringing calling you to Church, Jesus is near.
- When relationships are hurting, and you want to give up, but hang in there because you believe that hope is sure in God, Jesus is near.
- When somebody dies in the family, and sadness is great, and you realize that life is fragile and it is not yours, but God’s, Jesus is near.
- When a baby is born, and inconveniences in the family emerge, yet you realize that life is a gift for mankind, Jesus is near.
- When sickness, death or unemployment comes to the family and you like to give up, but realize that it is not the end, Jesus is near.
Yes, Jesus is near, and we are not alone. We just have to get in touch with ourselves, with others and with God. And can we not thank the Lord for the bad times as we thank Him for good ones? Job would proclaim, “God gave, God has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21). And he was blessed a hundredfold. Can we not exert a little more effort on things and relationships that we seem to dislike, only for the good of others, as we do for the things and relationships that we like for our own good?
For those who are faithful, who allow God to work in them in their responsibilities and relationships, the end will be a happy one. The Church gives us many ways to be close to God, and for Jesus to be close to us: opportunities to serve others, time to pray and time to be with our families, and time to work and be one with our Creator in His continuing work of creation. The Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist that we celebrate regularly, are ways of salvation that are effective for the present life and for the life to come. In fact, at Mass, after the consecration, we joyfully proclaim: When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again. We keep the end in mind so that we can bear fruit according to the Will of God.
Let us remember that we just don’t wait for His Kingdom. Jesus, Mary our Mother and all the Angels and Saints, are eagerly awaiting us, as we strive to grow in holiness, in our relationships and in our responsibilities. And so, we always pray: Come, Lord Jesus. Let us put our trust in the Lord in all things, and celebrate our life and our faith, as we proclaim His death and resurrection, until He comes again.