1st Reading: Daniel 12:1-3; 2nd Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Gospel: Mark 13:24-32.
THEME: WITH LOVE, WE SHALL FACE THE END-TIME REALITIES!
The book of Ecclesiastes made us to understand that there is time for everything under heaven. “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3).” Since there was a time the world was created, then, it implies that it must surely come to an end one day, even its inhabitants, though unknown to humanity. In spite of these biblical insights, many people are still ignorant of these end-time realities, while some are afraid of their occurrences, and others do not even believe in them.
Meanwhile, as we draw closer to the end of the liturgical year, the Church presents us with readings that hinge on apocalyptic theology (end-time realities) or eschatological crisis. This calls for a deeper reflection, genuine repentance and patience in our trials and tribulations, so that that terrible day would not invade us like a thief or meet us unprepared. However, the readings are not meant to terrify us, but for us to be alert, awake and ready at all times, since we do not know when such mysterious cataclysm would occur, and the day or hour when our earthly life would expire is also unknown to us.
The FIRST READING brings to limelight, a glimpse of that apocalyptic theology, which highlights the triumph of God’s goodness and power over the evil of the tyrant kings, as well as His imminent triumph over the evil of this world. When that time comes, many who had died shall awake, the righteous and faithful ones (elect) will be saved and share in the joy of everlasting life in the Kingdom of God, while the wicked will be subjected to eternal disgrace and damnation.
Besides, this biblical passage was written in the second century, about 166 BC, with the purpose of encouraging the Jews to remain faithful to God despite the harsh persecutions they were facing that period through their savage persecutor, Antiochus Epiphanes.
Furthermore, in the GOSPEL, Jesus Christ also made reference to the apocalyptic imagery of the Old Testament in order to describe the events that will precede the end of the world. According to Him, there will be an unprecedented cataclysm: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and powers in the heavens will be shaken (Mark 13:24-25).” That should be enough to terrify even the courageous hearts.
Nevertheless, this eschatological theology is to be understood not only in a future goal, but as a reality which has already begun with true historical coming of Christ. It is the basis for Christian hope and perseverance, and we should understand these readings within the context of the calamities we are facing currently. Nonetheless, if we love God sincerely, and our fellow human beings as well, then no matter any calamity that may befall us, we shall not be terrified, because, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).”
The SECOND READING reminds us of how the Levitical priests of the Old covenant offered daily powerless sacrifices for sin, but Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest of the New Covenant has offered the perfect sacrifice once and for all, with His own body and blood, and is now seated in heaven, waiting for the fulfilment of all scriptural prophecies, whereby His enemies will be made His footstool (Hebrews 10:13).
Finally, since our earthly life is ephemeral, are we ready to witness the eschatological crisis? When the trumpet sounds now, what shall be our fate? Can we confidently stand before God’s throne? Should we be found worthy as part of the elect or those doomed to perdition? As true Christians (those who love God & fellow human beings sincerely), we should not be afraid of death or the cataclysms that engender death, for Jesus Christ has conquered death, and His death has given meaning to our own death (1 Corinthians 15:55-57); ipso facto, in Him, death is a gain (Philippians 1:21).
Certainly, creation made us mere mortals, but only death brings us to be with our Immortal God. Hence, every human person must have to answer this call one day, and be committed to the mother earth, in as much as Christ has died and resurrected to life, then when we die, we too shall have and share life with Him.
Therefore, as we draw closer to the end-time and await the final coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us persevere with the following:
- Constant Prayer life (Luke 18:1-5, Isaiah 62:6-8, Mark 14:37-39).
- Constant Studying of the Word of God (2Timothy 2:15, John 6:63).
- Constant Sacrament of Reconciliation – Confession (2Chronicles 7:14, 1 John 1:8-10).
- Forgiving others their offences (Matthew 6:14-15).
- Constant reception of Holy Communion (John 6:51).
- Charity Work (Galatians 6:9-10; Matthew 25:31-45).
I pray that the Almighty God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, may grant you the grace to continue being steadfast in the Lord so that with love, you may be able to face the end-time realities, and on the last day, you shall be welcomed into His Heavenly Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.