33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted: Sat, 13 Nov 2021 14:09

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

As we come to the end of this liturgical year, Jesus reminds us that his Word will always remain with us. Over these past twelve months we have walked with the evangelist, Mark, and listened to his view of Jesus. I see Mark as the evangelist 'in a hurry' to spread the gospel. No beautiful stories of birth in a Bethlehem stable are to be found in Mark; his gospel focuses on Jesus's desire to share the Good News. Today our readings have an apocalyptic feel: Daniel points to a time of unparalleled distress—let us pray that the pandemic experience has been our distress and we can look forward of a time of healing and renewal. In the gospel, Mark presents Jesus sitting with his disciples predicting that the great Temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed—a reality at the time of Mark writing the gospel. He points to a new age of renewal: 'In the days after that time of trouble the sun will grow dark, the moon will no longer shine, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers in space will be driven from their courses' (Mk 13:24-25).

While Covid-19 has brought tragedy and pain to the world, the sun still shone, often brightly, and the moon continues to shine, with no reports of stars falling to earth. As a Church we are be invited to support and help people to move on from a global experience of a unique pandemic. The Church is offering us a message that we need to hear anew. The only way we can move from the pain and hurt is to listen once more to the gospel, as Catherine de Hueck Doherty reminds us:

'no matter how well I think I know the Gospel, every time I open it, it is new to me'

It is that attitude of 'freshness' that will help us in our attempts to reconnect and, perhaps, once again enjoy a real and full family Christmas. As this Year of Mark comes to an end, we are reminded that Jesus Christ will always be with us. Jesus uses nature, as he so often does, to point to hope and new life:

'Let the fig tree teach you a lesson. When its branches become green and tender and it starts putting out leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know that the time is near, ready to begin' (Mk 13:28-29).

We are called to move forward from the experience of COVID in a spirit of real hope. The people of Mark's community witnessed the horrors of persecution; just like their Lord and Master, they saw destruction and death. Our readings today help us to see beyond the difficulties of this past year so that we can hear the true message of the gospel: 'heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away' (Mk 13:31). In living these words, with renewed energy, we can all help to renew our Church. Perhaps during this coming week, you could choose your favourite words of Jesus and live them—apply those words to your everyday life. The Salesian poet Flor McCarthy SDB:

The Lord's words remain with us, as He said they would.

'what good is it to gain the whole world if you lose your soul?

'Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you.'

'The greatest among you is the one who serves.'

'Has nobody condemned you? Then, neither will I'...

...Your words challenge and inspire,

They guide and comfort and turn our values upside down.

Once heard your words cannot be forgotten—we anchor our lives to them.

For though heaven and earth should pass away, your words will never pass away.

Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB

Image: Origin Unknown

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