33rd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (B)

Reflctions for November are by Bishop Luis Secco, Bishop of Willemstad, Curacao

Mark 13: 24-32

We are approaching the end of the Liturgical Year and evangelist Mark offers us an impressive image of Jesus: the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

The Gospel of this Sunday presents us in an apocalyptic way, the end of the human history and on that moment the whole humanity is called to an encounter with our Master Jesus. It is a manifestation of the “Lordship” of Jesus that we are going to celebrate next Sunday (Solemnity of Christ the King). He has conquered evil and has definitely submitted the whole power of death by His Resurrection.

We are aware that in history there is much suffering, so many absurd situations that men himself has provoked. But the final is not a catastrophic but a triumph of life, a triumph of his chosen ones that has strived for life. “He will send the angels to gather his chosen” (13:27). It is true that those that the Lord has chosen has to suffer heavy persecution and maltreatment in an unjustly and cruel world, but it is also true that Jesus is faithful to those who follow him.

That’s why the life of Jesus’ disciples cannot just simply come to an end. He will search for all his sheep, making sure they are all together, just like a shepherd gathers his sheep (cf. Mt. 25: ). It is also true that living in communion with Christ could result in suffering, sometimes even painful death (look at the great numbers of martyrs the church knows). But this suffering is not to be compared with the reward Jesus has for his friends (cf. Rom 8.18).

The lesson Jesus disciples have to learn from the fig tree is hope and patience (13: 28-32). However, this world is not a garden of peace in the way we wish for: there are wars, famine, unemployment, social, racial and gender discrimination; marginalization, and abuse of power and position and so on. Facing this reality, Jesus disciples can fall into two temptations; to passively separate themselves of the world and to get desperate. Just like with the parable of the fig tree, that assures us that after winter’s harsh and cold times the tree’s branches buds and its leaves begin to sprout with the arrival of summer, Jesus disciples also have to be assured of God’s intervention, the creator of history, and increase their hope with all the signs of goodness and positive work that is present in all parts of the world.

Those who are leading the world do not have the last say, their projects are inconsistent, and their words will wither and fade. The last word is from God, with the arrival of the Son of Man: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away!” (13:31).

That’s why, dear brothers and sisters, we should not waste time with prediction and calculation of the end times of the world (13:32); it is something that no one but the Father knows. Let us instead put all our energy in what we know: to guide our history on what is good according to the will of God. In other words, comply with what Jesus taught his disciples: be on guard, preach and practice the commandment of love.

Prayer:

O Lord, your Word for ever stands firm in the heavens, your faithfulness lasts age to age (Ps. 118: 89-90). You are my shelter, my shield; I hope in your word (Ps. 118: 114).