HEAVEN AND EARTH WILL PASS AWAY
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
We are coming to the end of the liturgical year during which we have been seeing the years of Christ's public ministry through the eyes of St Mark. As we approach the conclusion of the year it is appropriate that we consider Christ's words about the Last Days. Jesus tells his disciples that, 'In those days, after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.' We are not meant to take these words in an absolutely literal sense. What Jesus is using is an Old Testament way of speaking.
What Jesus is talking about is that everything that exists will eventually come to its conclusion. Just as the material universe had a beginning, a creation, so it will also have an ending. There will be a final day when everything we know will come to an end. On that great day Christ will come in glory and what we call the General Judgment will take place.
Jesus is very clear that we will not know the day or the hour when the end will occur. Of course, two thousand years on, the people of today don't think like those early disciples. We tend to have the opposite problem; our temptation today is to think that the world will exist for thousands more years. Believing this we tend not to think overmuch about the end of the world or even for that matter about the end of our own lives. But we definitely should think about these things. We are mortal beings and as surely as we had a beginning, a birth, we will most certainly have an end, a death. And our death is something that we need to prepare for.
But our death and the Final Judgement, while it is something we need to prepare for, is not something that we should be afraid of. Indeed, it is the very opposite, it is something we should hope for, something we should rejoice in. When we are eventually called by Jesus it will not be to face a severe headmaster but to embrace a loving Saviour.
Rejoicing in the fact that Jesus has brought salvation to the world we should be also happy when we are finally ushered into his presence.
As the Prophet Daniel says in our first reading today, 'The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity.' That word “learned” doesn't mean the clever, but 'wise' or 'those who impart wisdom.' If our lives are filled with faith, if we communicate the Gospel to others especially to our children then there is nothing for us to fear. That great day when the whole universe comes to its fulfilment will be a day of rejoicing, a day of salvation, a day of love and hope.