Living the Word
By: Sharon Priester
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nov. 15
Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16:5,8,9-10,11; Hebrews 10:11-14,18; Mark 13:24-32
AS I LOOK out the window, I see that many of the trees have already lost their leaves and the flowers that were in full bloom just a few weeks ago are drooping because frost has dusted their leaves and petals during the night. On the frequent cloudy, rainy days, I find comfort sitting underneath an afghan, reading a good book. I know fall is here and winter is just a few weeks away. Yet, I look forward to the days of spring when new life is revealed through the budding purple and yellow crocuses while the sun brings warmth to the earth again.
This weekend’s readings from the Book of Daniel and the Gospel of Mark are “apocalyptic writings.” The purpose of this type of writing is to assure people that no matter what evil comes their way, the kingdom of God will triumph over all.
In the first reading, Daniel is addressing the Israelites who had been persecuted by the Maccabees, undergone a great deal of suffering and were now in exile. He reassures them that even though they have endured great distress, they will be free from bondage again.
Daniel also says, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.” The Israelites are given hope of freedom from oppression and, for those who have died, resurrection and life forever in God’s kingdom.
IN MARK’S Gospel, as Jesus is leaving the temple area with his disciples, they call his attention to it, saying, “Look, teacher, what stones and what buildings.” Jesus tells them that these great buildings will not last, but be destroyed.
Peter, James, John and Andrew ask him, “What sign will there be when all these things are about to come to an end?” (Mark 13:3) Jesus describes the signs of the end (Mark 13:3-8), the persecutions that they will face (Mark 13:9-13), and a great tribulation (Mark 13:14-23). Jesus tells them that after the tribulation, “The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky and the powers in the heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the ‘Son of man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:24-26)
Christ, the light of the world, will shine before all the elect, the followers of Christ, who have been gathered in the kingdom of God. The exact time is not known except by the Father, but it will happen just as it is known that summer is coming when the branches on the fig tree become tender and the leaves on the tree begin to emerge.
IN THE SECOND reading, the author of the letter to the Hebrews reminds the early Christians — and us — that Jesus offered and sacrificed himself once for all people and their sins, and sits forever at the right hand of God. His light shines through and sustains all people throughout their life on earth.
Each of us has experienced times of darkness when all seems hopeless — an illness, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, persecution, suffering. Let us remember the words of the author of Hebrews: Jesus sacrificed for all of us and for the forgiveness of our sins. His light shines before us and gives us strength through all sorts of adversity, especially during those dark, dreary days of our life. Remember, as Daniel and Mark have told us, that we can look forward to the time when we will be with Christ in his kingdom, seeing the “Son of Man coming in the clouds, with great power and glory.”
Let us not be idle, however. It is time now to prepare for the coming of the “Son of Man.” How can we live our lives of faith today to prepare for eternal life in God’s kingdom?
Sharon Priester is one of six regional directors of religious education working with the diocesan Office of Catechetics and serves the Bloomington and Lincoln vicariates of the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.