33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 14 November 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Daniel 12:1-3; Responsorial: Psalm 16; II: Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Gospel: Mark 13:14-32
“At that time there shall arise, Michael, the great prince… a time unsurpassed in distress… at that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book.” so proclaims God’s Word to Daniel the prophet and to us today in our first reading. “You will show me the path of life…delights at your right hand forever…” sings the last verse from our responsorial psalm. “He has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated”, shares the final verse of our epistle reading from the Book of Hebrews. Each of these readings is an essential reminder that our times are in God’s hands. Each is a reminder that we are created by and for God and that it is God’s desire for us to live for which we are created in the seasons of our life and for all eternity.
Our Gospel from the thirteenth chapter of Mark further affirms our earlier readings with Jesus also focusing our hearts and attention on the promise of His return, and the end of time as we now know it. Next week we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King and then we enter the season of Advent. We are sharing a season when the Holy Spirit seeks to wake us up to the realities of the reign of Christ, the King of kings. The reign of Christ the King is infinite and eternal. Upon His return, Jesus will manifest the full and final conquest of Satan, sin, and death. His Word also teaches us that for all things, for us there are the seasons of God.
Jesus uses the example of the fig tree to help us understand that we need to tend to, care for the seasons God brings so that we may be ready at His coming. Scripture abounds in many messages of the days and seasons of God. There will be times of great distress and testing. There will be times of renewal and healing. Whatever the season or day of our life we can rest in two facts. First, we will never fully know or understand all that God is doing among us, with us, and through us. The plans and purposes of God are simply mysteries beyond our ability to organize or fully understand. We are called to grow in knowledge, in wisdom, and in life. But our minds, our souls can never contain the fullness of God, or of the designs of our Savior and King.
Over the millennia humanity has indeed grown in faith, in knowledge, and in the abundance of information we have available. This has brought about countless efforts of people to interpret, explain, apply the works and days of God according to the preferred ideas of the time. Most Jews understood and assumed the Messiah would be the leader who would conquer and vanquish the forces of evil (especially the Gentile Romans). Then through the ages Christians would go on to apply the same mentality to their understanding of church and nation, or faith and nationality of an ethnic group. This short-sighted dynamic is especially at work in our own day and age where the faith is, by many, equated to their political party or ideology. The same peril is at work within the church itself where devout souls chose to see the work of God only through the lenses of their denominational or liturgical bias. But God is far greater than any of these.
The second fact is that God is with us. Scripture helps us understand and believe that we are called to live in the Times of God. Our heavenly Father has the schedule. God knows, fully the plan for all of creation, and for each of us. So whether we look at the matter of the return of our King or our own life we can rest assured we are in the Times of God. We can rejoice in that whatever the season or opportunity God is with us, in the Eucharist, In God’s Word, in the promise of the Holy Spirit.
And this is why the Holy Spirit seeks to awaken us to…God and God’s Kingdom. The Spirit of Jesus seeks to make us realize, yes our times are OF God. And that we also would be wise to remember our times are FOR God. The verses of Hebrews speaks that we are made perfect forever…(as we are) being consecrated”. We are created and redeemed to be growing as those set apart, as God’s saints. Jesus, in the Gospel, shows us that while the heavens and earth will be shaken He still reigns, He comes for His people. Our Gospel reading concludes with Mark 13:32. Yet the context (as always) brings even more light and power. Mark 13:33 states: “Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time will come.” We are called to be watching, to be alert, aware of what is going on in our life, in our world, in God’s Kingdom. We must grow in being observant of the events and spirits of the time in which we walk. We will recognize evil, sin, and that it may tempt us to fear. But we are not called to be fearful, but faithful, at peace knowing, in our hearts…Jesus has not left His throne, and that we know, Jesus reigns! This peace, this guiding hope grows, regardless of our circumstances, as we grow in our prayer life. But He also has promised that He would never leave us. And as we journey through our days we journey with God. It is only natural, then, that we converse, we speak with and listen to God. And as we make this journey we come to meet fellow believers, saints who share the faith, the path, the seeking of His Kingdom. Our relationship with the saints, those in the pew with us, and those reigning with God in heaven bring us a greater vision, faith, and relationship with God whom we all love and serve.
So it is that we watch and pray growing in the Scriptures, growing in balanced discernment focused, not on politics or news but on God. It is as we celebrate His true and Real Presence in the Eucharist we grow in the graces of being a part of the Body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit. With this watching, with this growing prayer life in His Body, we grow in our communion of the saints so whether it be St. Michael the archangel of which Daniel spoke, or our Blessed Mother Mary or our companions in the pews we grow, alert together for God and His Kingdom.
We must recognize we have a great responsibility to live, fully, in, and for God’s times at hand and the times of God to come. We would be foolish to ignore that there are many signs that the figs are almost ripe, that the time of Christ’s return may well be at hand. But even if our Lord’s coming is delayed we would be just as foolish to forget that at any moment God’s time for us, individually, maybe at hand. These truths remind us we live in and for the Times of God.