Saturday, November 17, 2018

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

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

As the Liturgical Year approaches the end, the Church directs out attention to the end times and the need for preparedness. In 2009, film makers released a new movie “2012”. This apocalyptic movie was based on the prophecies of Nostradamus (1503-1566) who prophesied that a comet would destroy the world in 2012. What is so amazing about all these doomsday stories circulating is that some Catholics seem to interpret the prophecy in terms of the Third Secret of Fatima by linking that prophecy to the Mayan prophecy that is said to coincide with that of Nostradamus. The doomsday prophets therefore give a specific date for the end: December 21 2012, the date of the Winter Solstice.  In the first place, the Third Secret of Fatima was already made public in 1960 and again by the Cardinal Secretary of State on May 13 2000. In the first reading from the Book of Daniel we are given a preview of the final scene of human history- the end times. We are told that the dead will be raised to life and that each will face the final judgement. The good will be rewarded with eternal life, and the bad with eternal punishment. In today’s world, it is very easy to be confused by ideas from all sorts of preachers about the end of the world. Some even give an exact date and time, and to make it even more exciting, they indicate a place where their followers should gather, for the Lord to take them up – the so-called rapture!

In the Gospel, Jesus first speaks about the apocalyptic events that will cause the sun to be darkened and the moon dimmed; with stars falling from the sky. Then speaks about the Son of Man “coming in the clouds with great power and glory”. This statement obviously echoes the words in the First Reading, but here the Son of Man is even more victorious. All these catastrophic events are not the end but a preparation for the coming of the Lord. They are signs, that the end in near. That is why we must not interpret the so-called doomsday of 2012 as the end of time. If there is a galactic alignment in the heavenly bodies on December 21 2012, the message is that God is still in control of all He has created; for those who believe in God, God through the Church still proclaims a message of conversion and repentance in readiness of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We must not be afraid or panic. In March 2000, about 1000 people followers of the “doomsday cult” in Uganda were murdered by their leaders under the pretext of the end of the world. Such apocalyptic preachers obviously forget the final sentence of the Sunday Gospel reading from Mark. "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father".  All we are told is that the end of this world as we know it will surely come. Jesus in the Gospel therefore helps us to read the signs that indicate the coming of the end. After that Christ will appear and send his angels to gather the just. So what is the message? 1) The readings challenge us to take note of the signs to the times and to be always prepared because the end is hidden from all of us. 2) What is sure is that in the end the Lord of all history will finally triumph over sin and the powers of evil in all their manifesta­tions in the world. 3) As followers of Christ therefore, we must heed the message of conversion and repentance in readiness for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
©2018 John S. Mbinda

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