Deacon Raymond’s Reflection
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, B
November 18, 2018
Going to 9:00 am mass gave me the opportunity to watch the CBC Remembrance Day Special last Sunday. Lest we forget. I remember reading an article on WWII. British faced a real possibility of being conquered by the rise of the Third Reich. The end of the world. All in England felt obliged to participate in the war in some way. They called it “doing my bit.” Each bit might seem to be only a little bit, but it was all part of a tremendous war effort. Like the Brits, we Christians are facing evil that is doing everything to destroy us, to bring the world to an end! Each of us can and must do our bit. That “bit” might be here in our country, or in another country. It might consist in giving a year to help destitute people, or a life. It might mean making a financial sacrifice so others can do this work. Our bit certainly means changing our lifestyle if that is what we need to do to fight evil within our homes. Whatever it may be, we all need to do our bit in the war against evil.
The cycle of the Church’s year is coming to an end. The ‘end of the world’ – when God’s great plan for creation will be realized. In the time of Jesus, centuries of frustration under occupying powers had given rise among the Jewish people the Apocalyptic literature, a genre of religious writing centred on visions of the end time. It expressed a confidence that, despite all appearance to the contrary, God’s promises would be fulfilled in ‘a new heaven and a new earth’. In the prophecy of Daniel, from which this Sunday’s first reading comes (12:1-3), its startling images of the passing away of the present world gave an essential message, an assurance that God’s designs will be fulfilled, despite all appearances to the contrary. It is not surprising that Jesus preached the coming of the final reign of God in this Sunday’s Gospel using some of the images and expression of this literature. St Mark (13:24-32) tells the final section of a long passage that gathers together recollections of this teaching of Jesus: “In those days after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”
We need to have faith. Though Jesus speaks with certainty of the coming of the end of the world, he acknowledges that ‘nobody knows’ when ‘but the Father’. As in the Book of Daniel , it urges constant vigilance, lest believers be taken unaware. We know God’s final achievement has been realized in Christ’s risen greatness; but we wait in faith and hope for our full sharing in all that Christ has promised. As with Mark’s community, we place our trust – whatever lies ahead of us – in the one who said: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away’.
We live in a “no news is good news” world. It seems everything is falling part. We have been attacked from all sides. Our hearts hurt when we learn about attacks. The attack on human life at every stage of life, from womb to tomb, substance abuse, pornography, immoral gains in business through the exploitation of others, the economic model that some must lose so others may gain. These are all just some of the ways that the world is in the grip of evil. But we, people of faith, refuse to give in to pessimism which is not the Christian attitude. We are optimists. Jesus Christ became one of us, died for us, and gave us his life. He wants a personal relationship with each of us. We hear in the first reading from the Book of Daniel about a time unsurpassed in distress. But we also hear that Michael, our prince, the great archangel, joins us in the battle against evil. Though the reading speaks about the end of time and the final destruction of the world, we also heard that those whose names are written in God’s book will escape the destruction coming upon mankind. We learned that the wise shall shine brightly and those who lead many to justice will be like the stars forever. In today’s Gospel we heard too that when the time of devastation comes, God’s angels will gather His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. Each of us has a part to play to win the battle. St. Michael is fighting with us. Jesus Christ is the Victor. We need to be optimistic that in the end, the end of time, evil will be defeated. And we, people of faith, trust that God will join us to Himself as He wins the final battle. But for the time being, we need to do our bit. We need to bring more lost sheep to the flock. We need to add more names into God’s book.