From the Pastor's Desk
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:How does not knowing when the end will come change the way I live my life?
TToday’s readings give us the assurance that our God will be with us all the days of our lives and that we will have the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, guiding, protecting and strengthening us in spite of our necessary uncertainty concerning the end time when “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Each year at this time, the Church asks us to consider the “last things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell – as happening to ourselves.
The readings invite us to focus our attention on the threefold coming of Jesus: 1) His first coming according to the flesh, as Redeemer. 2) His second coming, either at our death, or at the end of time and the world, which will bring our salvation to completion. 3) His coming into our lives each time we step forward in genuine Christian living. The first reading, taken from from the prophet Daniel (167 BC), was originally given to comfort and give hope to the Jewish people persecuted by a cruel pagan king. It advises us to live wisely and justly in the present time, instead of worrying about the unknown future.
The author of the Hebrews in the second reading, challenges us to look to the future with hope and serenity because Jesus, who sits forever at God’s right hand, is the mediator who has secured the forgiveness of our sins and our sanctification through his sacrifice on the cross.
Today’s Gospel, taken from Mark (AD 69), offered hope to early Christians persecuted by the Roman Emperor Nero, reminding them of Jesus’ words about his glorious return to earth with great power and glory as Judge to gather and reward his elect. Daniel and Mark continue to remind us that God will ensure that the righteous will survive the ordeal and will find a place with Him. Through the parable of the fig tree, Jesus warns us all to read the “signs of the time,” reminding us that we must be ever prepared to give an account of our lives to Jesus when he comes in glory as our Judge, because we cannot know “either the day or the hour” of his Second Coming.
Life messages: 1) Let us recognize the “second coming” of Jesus in our daily lives through everyday occurrences, always remembering that Jesus comes without warning. But let us not get frightened at the thought of Christ’s Second Coming because he is with us every day in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible and in our worshipping communities. We will be able to welcome him in his Second Coming as long as we faithfully do the will of God daily by serving our brothers and sisters, by recognizing Christ’s presence in them, and by being reconciled with God and with our brothers and sisters every day.
2) We need to “learn the lesson from the fig tree.” This means that we are to watch and wait in a state of readiness. Instead of worrying about the end time events, we are asked to live every day of our lives loving God living in others, by our committed service to them with sacrificial agape love.