Homily for the Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year (B) (15th November, 2015) on the Gospel
Dan 12:1-3;Ps 15: 5.8-11 (R.V. 1);
One of the things most feared by people especially among political office holders is losing their positions. Many are ready for anything no matter how devilish just to ensure their continued stay in those positions. Yet no matter how much one fears and/or whatever one does, one must leave his or her position one day – alive or dead. The topic we are reflecting on today might not be pleasant to many because of fear. I therefore plead for your indulgence because it is a sine qua non irrespective of how careful or careless one might be.
Topic: Life ticks away.
As the liturgical year comes to an end, the mother Church through the readings wants us to be mindful of the awaiting exit. But just like those in various positions of authority, the greatest fear for many is this exit from this life. Many do not even want to remember that a time will come when this life will be transformed either to life or to death, cf. Dan 12:2. If you take time to look around you will see that many people of different classes and age brackets are now just part of the history. Unfortunately, even the history is very fast forgetting them. And all of us who are still here are relentlessly on the same road and have no advantage over those who have gone before us, cf. 1Thess 4:15. Hence the Psalmist rightly writes: “Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow” (Ps 144:4).
In today’s gospel we read:
“24But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Mk 13:24-25).
Most often this passage is seen to be referring just to the end of the world. But I see this referring to the exit of each of us from this world. Nowadays burial brochures have been turned into photo albums. I have during my spare time gone through many with particular reference to those of people who were up to seventy years and above. One thing that strikes me is that even those who were very beautiful/handsome when much younger could not be recognised in their old age.
When everything both the things we boast of and those we hate with passion in this world has passed, the Son of Man will “gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (Mk 13:27). Unfortunately, we cannot answer questions about when, where, and how, cf. Mk 13:32. The most important thing is to be prepared so as not to be caught unawares, (cf. Lk 12:40; 1Thess 5:1-2) by doing what you suppose to all the time like Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. He “was playing a game of chess one day when he was asked what he would do if he knew he would die within the hour. He replied, ‘I would keep on playing chess’” (Culled from Sagayanathan, A. (2009). Launching Pad: Stories for Sunday Homilies, year A,B,&C. Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, p. 233).
There is also a story of St. Francis Borgia. He “was of Spanish nobility and deeply devoted to his queen – Queen Isabella. Upon her death it fell to the lot of Francis to open her casket as part of her burial ceremony.
“What he saw was a foul and disgusting corpse. ‘What!’ he exclaimed, ‘Is this all that remains of my gracious sovereign?’” ( Sagayanathan, A. (2009). Launching Pad: Stories for Sunday Homilies, year A,B,&C. p. 232). Remember David’s exclamation: “Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?” (Song 6:10).
In as much as I do not want to instil unnecessary fear into anybody, I want to remind each and every one of us that we shall all leave this world with nothing not even our bodies we care so much for, cf. 1Tim 6:7. The only consoling thing is that worthy life merits the fullness of life in the world to come. But the big question is ‘who and who will make the list?’, cf. Rev 13:8; 20:15. So dearest in the Lord, always be prepared for that journey. We are just on transit in this world. We all must surely cross the Rubicon; the point of no return. Wishing you safe journey to our promise land.
Bible Readings: Lk 12:35-40; Matt 25:31-46; 1Thess 4:13-5:11; 1Tim 6:3-10.
Silent Prayer: How are you preparing for the journey?
Let us pray: Almighty Father, we humbly beseech you to help us remember always that we must one day leave this world. Help us live our lives as we should so that whenever, wherever, and however it pleases you to call us we will be found less unworthy to join the company of your saints – Amen.
May the good Lord grant us the necessary graces that will enable us prepare better for the world to come + Amen!
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God bless you+