Weekly Reflection (18 Nov 2018)

33nd Sunday Year B

Daniel 12:1-3
Hebrews 10:11-14,18
Mark 13:24-32

Theme of the week: “About that day or hour no one knows.” If my life on earth ends today, am I ready to face God?

As we approach the end of the liturgical year, the Readings take on an apocalyptic tone. On the subject of salvation, the Second Reading continues the teachings of the previous weeks. This week’s passage makes a comparison between the sacrifice of the earthly priest and that of Christ, the eternal high priest. While the earthly priest “offering again and again the same sacrifices” (verse 11), Christ “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (verse 12) – the sacrifice of himself. By sacrificing himself, Christ sanctified all sinners once and for all. Verse 14 and 18 explains that through this one sacrifice of Christ, eternal life and salvation are made available to all – even the greatest sinners. Whatever the sins may be, the only thing we need to do is to renounce our sins and repent. This, my brothers and sisters, is the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The First Reading and the Gospel this week describe the event of the Last Judgement. The First Reading is significant in it being the earliest clear statement on the resurrection of the body. For the first time in the Bible, “everlasting life” and “everlasting contempt” (verse 2) are mentioned. The Gospel continues the theme on the Last Judgement by describing how on the last day, the Son of Man will come down in the clouds to gather his elect. However, “about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (verse 32).

No one knows the timing of the Last Judgement. However, many of its characteristics described in the First Reading and the Gospel apply equally to an event that is more imminent to us – that of Individual Judgement, the time when we pass on from this earth. Death is the great certainty of our lives on earth. Yet it is ironic that our secularly culture tells us to focus only on our lives on earth, whether it is cosmetics to make us look beautiful or gadgets to provide us earthly comfort. While the cosmetics and gadgets are not by themselves detrimental to our spiritual lives, they can make us lose focus. We are at risk of thinking as if our earthly lives are all that matters.

The reality though is that all of us, without exception, will die one day and face our individual judgement before God. At that time, some of us will be consigned to “everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (First Reading, verse 2). And the former will “shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (First Reading, verse 3). When will that day be for each of us? Like the Last Judgement, no one knows. Through parables such as the Ten Bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13) and Thief in the Night (Matthew 24:43), Jesus repeated this same message: we don’t know the day or the hour judgement will come upon us. So, we must always stay alert and be ready. Reflect upon this for a moment: if my life on earth ends today, is my heart be at peace that I am ready to face God? Let us ponder over this question over the week ahead. Shalom.

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