Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
We have been hit by devastating hurricanes and wild fires this year. Especially, when it comes to hurricanes, people are advised to evacuate. I always wonder why some people do not heed the warnings. I understand that some people do not evacuate for compelling reasons - poverty, health issues, family compulsion, pets. But there are those who could and simply will not. And as they were warned, things end tragically for many of them. As we approach the end of the liturgical year, we are reminded that life itself comes with ample caution. We are all invited to live well. We are invited to strive to be happy. We are all invited to make life meaningful. However, the gospel cautions us - all things will come to an end. The Gospel cautions us that life is unpredictable. As with hurricanes and wild fires, there are those who heed the warning and those that do not.
Three practical implications:
1. Eternity Prevails! Just for a moment, let us reflect upon Jesus’ statement, “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light” (Mk 13:24). The sun is the surest thing we know. Never have we awoken to a day when the sun was not in the sky. This is Jesus’ way of cautioning us that nothing is permanent. Even something as sure as the sun and the moon with cease to exist. Everything we know as we do now, will end. However, there are those realities that are permanent. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” says Jesus, “but my words will not pass away” (Mk 13:31). In other words, when everything ends, God will still be there. This means two things for us: first, that God cares for us beyond the world. God’s love, care, and providence extends beyond the material world. God offers us eternity itself. Second, the scriptures invite us to fashion our lives in such a way that when everything fails, we do not find ourselves helpless and hopeless. Today, Jesus invites us to put our trust only in that which is eternal.
2. To Be Wise and Just. In light of the unpredictability of life, scripture invites us to be wise. In today’s apocalyptic first reading from Daniel, he holds out hope to his people in these words: “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever." Who is wise? How do we define wisdom? I define wisdom as “the way in which God would act in the world.” Jesus entire ministry was about this – to teach humanity to live the way God wants us to live. He came to teach to live godly lives. The best way to ensure our destiny is to be wise – to live and act, here and now in this world, the way God would do.
3. Humility. When all is said and done, scripture passages like the ones we have today are about humility. We humans beings have to approach life and eternity, with humility. So often we conduct ourselves in way that arrogantly defies our mortality. So often we conduct ourselves as if we are our own destiny. How often we live as if our life, our wealth, our nation, our politics, our ideologies, our wealth, our fame, our power, our institutions, and our creations are eternal realities? If there is one warning that we should heed today it is this – to approach life and death with humility.
Take a look around this church. Everybody here and everything here will one day be no more. That which is eternal, lies on this altar. If we are wise, He is the One in whom we would put all our trust.
- Fr. Satish Joseph