This week the readings come from Malachi 3:19-20, Psalm 98, Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians 3:7-12 and Luke’s gospel 21:5-19.
Once again we are looking to the end time but today we have the idea of salvation added to it. Malachi warns us that “Lo, the Day is coming” when all of this will end, the Lord will come and Justice will happen the proud and evil doers will be set on fire and those who fear the Lord will arise. Paul touches on this in a way by saying that when they brought the message to Thessalonica they hoped to be models for imitation in how to act and all that jazz. Their message is that the end is coming but we don’t know when, so go about your lives like normal work but try and model our behavior. In Luke we get Jesus echoing the message of Malachi and Paul, the Day is coming and the Lord will come. Sure it won’t be nice nation will rise against nation and you will be persecuted not for who you are but for what you believe in.
This is a great message for this week as it seems about half the United States isn’t pleased with the result of the Election, but we all can deal with it. As we need to be models for the world as Tertullian observed the pagans say “See how those Christians love one another” we need to continue to show this love to more than just those in our parishes but out in the community we should care about how are communities function. Sure there may be those who we don’t care for in the world but we need to be able to show them the same love that we show to our own family and friends. By bringing love out into the world we are working to building the kingdom here on earth.
As we arrive at the final week in the Liturgical year we once again have readings that speak of the end of the world but also about the kingship of Jesus. The first reading comes from the same place as last week the prophet Daniel. Daniel tells us of a dream in which the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven and when he met the Ancient of Days, the Son of man received dominion, glory and kingship. All people will serve him and reign of the Son of man will never end. This is saying that we should have hope that even though we are stuck in our situations in life the Son of man will be our king. Christians have used this as a reference to Jesus, the Jewish people have at least from my reading that it means more like the Children of the most high or like the Chosen People there will be a time when they will be in control of their own lives, Daniel wrote during the captivity in Babylon. So these were words people wanted to hear.
Turning to the second reading we hear from the final book of the Bible, Revelation. This is from the beginning of the book and John writes that it is to the seven churches and from Jesus and the seven spirits. The main part of this reading is the “I am the Alpha and Omega…the one who is and was and is to come” I am the beginning and the end as we enter this final week of the year we are reminded that Jesus is the beginning which we will get in a couple of weeks as John begins his Gospel “The Word was with the Lord and the Word was the Lord” The Word will be made flesh and make its dwelling with us. Here we are reminded that Jesus and his heavenly father will be there for us at all times. Finally in the Gospel of John we hear from the Passion narrative where Pilate asks Jesus “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replies that sure he is a King but his kingdom doesn’t belong to this world. Let us remind ourselves that Jesus is the King of the Universe and that our mission is to try and build his kingdom here on earth this is the role of all people.
This week the reading focus on the end times as we near the end of the Liturgical year. We begin in the prophet Daniel which is apocalyptic literature. Daniel tells us that Michael, the archangel, will come at a time of great distress, and the dead will rise and those whose names are written in the book “shall live forever while those other will be in everlasting horror and disgrace.” and the wise who lead others to justice will be like the stars in the sky. Looking at this bit of the future we could just about say that it’s anytime especially with the recent events in Paris and Beirut, it seems like the world has constantly been in distress over the past almost twenty years. However turning to the psalms we are given some hope when we sing that “You are our inheritance, O Lord.” Even though we are constantly living in trying times if we but remember that we have the Lord on our sides.
As we make our way to the Epistle we continue our reading from Hebrews today we hear that Jesus has taken his seat forever at the right hand of the Father. Since Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice all those that follow him can join in the eternal glory of heaven. Finally as we make our way to the Gospel we hear from Mark of how Jesus described the Last Judgement. The sun will darken, the moon will not give light, and the stars will fall from the sky. Then the Son of Man will come on the clouds in power and glory and he will send out his angels to the four corners and gather the elect. The story then changes and Jesus talks about fig trees saying that in the spring when the branches are tender and sprout leaves you know that summer is coming. Jesus tells the disciples to watch for the signs like this. This next part is where things usually go fishy when you look at the Bible as a credible source since Jesus says “This generation will not pass away until all the things have taken place, Heaven and Earth will pass away, but the words will remain forever” Then comes the Father is the only one who know the day or the hour when this will happen. It’s been a couple of generations since these words were first uttered and the Earth is still here. That is unless you consider each and everyday as a brand new creation. The readings today are all meant to remind us that there is no need to fear the end of the world, since Jesus offered himself for all of mankind as the perfect sacrifice so we are all able of salvation. Perhaps we could take some time over the next to weeks and reflect on how our relationship with Jesus and our Heavenly Father. Have we been as attentive to the needs of those around us looking specifically at the works of mercy. As we near the end of this year let us begin this upcoming year with a renewed spiritual life. Also this week it would be wonderful if we all could keep those in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and Japan who have been affected by recent tragedies in our prayers.
We have finally arrived at the final Sunday in the Liturgical Year and we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King. This is a common thread for our readings this week.
We begin with the prophet Ezekiel who tells us what the Lord had told him “I, the Lord, will look after and tend my sheep…” Now we must remember that sheep were a common sight in the time of the prophet and were still around at the time of Jesus so shepherds were something that everyone had a personal experience with, in the world today many of us do not have this reference point. A couple of years ago, in a homily about the Good Shepherd I heard a little about what shepherds were like, they were a group of people who were on the fringe of society, they smelled of sheep and spent a great deal of time with sheep and fellow shepherds, but the shepherd as we hear in this reading are attentive to the sheep, caring for all of them and finding the sheep when they get lost. Our reading ends today with the Lord saying “I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. The Psalm pick up the shepherd imagery as well, the Lord is our shepherd there is nothing that we shall want.
As we reach the epistle we hear from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians basically Paul reminds us that Jesus rose from the dead and Jesus has become like a new Adam, since death came from man so to does resurrection. Now the Kingdom of God that Christ will reign over will be a place that is in a constant battle with evil and Christ will reign until death itself is destroyed. Then the Kingdom of God will be turned over to the father.
Turning to the Gospel we once again hear about the end times Jesus tells his disciple that when the Son of Man comes again in glory he will separate the sheep from the goats, as we recall this is similar to what the Lord had said in Ezekiel. Jesus continues to the sheep he says come inherit the kingdom prepared for you, since you showed kindness to the least of your brothers. Turning to the goats he says in a very nice way Go to Hell, depart from me you accursed into the eternal flames since you didn’t show kindness to anyone of the least of your brothers. This is a great place to end the Liturgical year asking the question which side are we on. Are we Team Goat or Team Sheep? Let us ponder this question as we enter into the season of Advent and perhaps try to do something for the least of your brothers during the upcoming holiday season.
We are back with a regular Ordinary Time Sunday. Turning to the reading we begin in the book of Proverbs, it is a book that we don’t often read from on Sundays it is one of the wisdom books and is a part of the writings. In Proverbs we hear that a wife is far greater than pearls then it continues to go on and on about how wonderful women can be, and husbands must be able to entrust their hearts to them. In simple terms we must entrust their hearts into a worthy spouse as they are by far the most precious things in the world and we should be faithful to them at all times.
In our second reading we hear from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, the people in Thessalonica were very concerned about the second coming and Paul spends a good part of the letter taking about it. In our reading today Paul tells them that we have no idea when it will happen. “It will come like a thief at night” without warning. This is when Paul informs them to stay alert and sober, being watchful about the end times but not asking to many questions about it.
Finally as we arrive at the Gospel, once again we are treated to a parable from Matthew. A master was going on a journey and he gave his three servants talents, five to one, two to another and one to the last individual. Now when the master had left the first two servants doubled their money while the third buried the money. When the master had returned he called back the servants and praised those who increased the money they were given great responsibilities and shared in the master’s joy. Now the servant who did nothing with his talent came forward and said “I know that you are a demanding person, so out of fear I buried it and here it is back again.” The master was not happy with this and ordered that his talent be given to the man with ten, for to whoever has many more is given and the ones who have nothing even that will be taken away. It is widely believed that this will be what happens when Jesus comes again, will be like one of the good servants who doubled what was given to us or will be like the third who was thrown out to where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.
This parable gives us an interesting outlook if we look at it as talents=money it reminds us that the rich will get richer and the poor will be thrown out into the streets. However if we look at it as talents=faith we want the Word of God to be spread and the more we try to get the message of Christ out into the world the better we will be, this is similar to the talents=skills we need to be using our skills in the world and not keeping them hidden. Are we someone who doubles the talents given to us or do we hid them under a bushel basket? As we inch closer to the end of this season and liturgical year let us reflect upon our many blessing we have received this past year and how we can try and bring these blessing to other in the upcoming year.
On Tuesday of Holy Week Jesus told many Parables. Eight of the twenty-one Matthewian Parables are told today. Jesus returns to the temple and is preaching and the Pharisees and chief priest are there. We begin with The Parable of the Two Sons and go on from there including the Parables of the Wedding Banquet, the Ten Bridesmaids and the Talents. Also today Jesus gives the Olivet Discourse where he talks about the end times specifically how the temple is going to be destroyed. The major thread of these is the need for patience and to be prepared.
Parable of the Two Sons– A Father ask his two sons to go out and work in the vineyard one says yes and the other says no but it is only the one who refuses to go who actually goes into the vineyard. Jesus asks the crowd which one honored the father and crowd got that right (the one who did work) Jesus responds to them that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. because they believed what John (the baptist) was preaching.
Parable of the Wedding Banquet– A king is holding a wedding feast for his son and he sends his servants out to get the guest, they refuse to come, so the king sends them again. This time the guest go back to their work and some attack and kill the servants, so the king sends his troops and the guests are slaughtered. The kings then sends his servants to round up everyone from the streets to attend the feast. When the king comes and meets the crowd he notices that an individual is not wearing a Wedding robe so that individual is cast out of the party.
Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids\Virgins is the important Parable of the day. In it ten bridesmaids\virgins await the arrival of the Bridegroom (some sources Bride and Groom) five were foolish and just brought lamps and five were wise and brought flasks of oil for their lamps as well. The bride and groom were delayed and the virgins fell asleep and at around midnight they hear that the bridegroom is approaching so they all get their lamps ready but the foolish ones lamps won’t light as they need oil, the wise ones told the foolish ones to go buy some more oil. While the foolish ones were gone the Bridegroom appears and heads to the wedding banquet with the wise one and when to foolish ones came back they banged on the door trying to get in but they were turned away.
The key point here is that we do not know the day or the hour when anything will happen so we need to be prepared for anything, dress for the occasion and even if you say you can’t do it at least give it a try.
The Day is coming, as we near the end of the liturgical year we find ourselves looking at some reading that are often interpreted to be talking about the end times which leads many people to say that the end times are upon us. Now this is a bit hyperbolic as throughout the ages there have been people saying that the end times are upon us. As we hear from the Prophet Malachi, for the evil and wicked they will see fire blazing like an oven and for those who fear the Name of the Lord there will arise the sun of justice with healing rays. Now Malachi is the last of the Twelve Minor Prophet in the Nevim\Old Testament and according to the Christian Bible the last book in the Old Testament as well. This leads many to believe the sun of justice that Malachi refers to is Jesus, however later on in the chapter Malachi says that Elijah will come again before the Day of the Lord to bring People to God’s ways. So it might be either one that he is referring to.
Turning to Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians we are back to where we left off last week. Paul has finished his prayers and gets down to business and he says to the people that the end of the world (Day of the Lord) is not neigh as other preachers have said. Paul on the other hand say look you have to imitate us (Timothy, Silvanus and Paul) we are not going around and doing nothing for the food we eat we work for it as “anyone unwilling to work neither should he eat.” All too often it seems like we want to rush to conclusions and want to worry about the second coming but we need to listen to the words of Paul and try not to be so worked up about things to come we need to stay focused on our daily lives.
From Paul we go into Luke’s Gospel where Jesus says the days are numbered. Next comes that section that people often quote about the end times. Nations will rise against each other, there will be powerful natural disasters and awesome sights from the stars above but before all this happens there will be wars and insurrections and before all this happens there will be persecution and kings and governors will be called to hear testimony because of the name of the Lord. However “by our perseverance we will secure our lives” we need to trust in God that “his will be done”. I find it sort of funny how often people have called it the end times as there have always been wars and nations fighting against nations and natural disasters around the world throughout time. I think a real sign of the day of the Lord would be the end of war and the beginning of peace, among all people. I hope that someday we can build the Kingdom of God here on Earth.. This week I hope that we can open our hearts and listen to message of the readings today that we need to be patient and on alert as we do not know the day or the time in which the Lord will return to us, but we can continue to try and build up the Kingdom of God here on Earth.