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This Sunday we celebrate the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary time. Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King which is the end of this liturgical year. As always, as we come close to the end of a liturgical year the readings focus our attention on the end times. This is the case with our Gospel reading today. In that reading we hear Jesus tell his disciples that after some time of tribulations “they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” Jesus then tells his disciples: “when you see these things happening, know that the is near at the gates.” After this dire warning, the Gospel closes with the somewhat enigmatic statement that "of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
What are we to make of this Gospel? Well I think it reminds us that while we do believe that Christ will return at the end of time in the glory of the final age, we also need to be aware that Christ is still present in our midst today. And while we need to be aware of and prepared for the end times, one of the best ways to do this is to strive to be aware of and prepared to meet Christ in our daily lives.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Daniel. It is apocalyptic literature, which was written to a people who were experiencing trials or tribulations. It uses vivid language and images to remind people that despite any trials or difficulties ultimately good will triumph. In today’s reading we are told there will be a time “unsurpassed in distress.” At this time, though, “the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament.”
For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews. It reminds us that “But this one (Jesus) offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God. Now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- If only the Father knows when the end times will occur why are some people so fascinated with trying to discern the signs of the end times?
- What helps you to be aware of Christ’s presence on a daily or regular basis?
- Have trials/tribulations ever caused you to think about giving up on God?