Dear Followers of Jesus,
In these November days, the sacred liturgy reflects on Jesus’ Second Coming as we move to the conclusion of our liturgical year next week on Christ the King. The end of time is presented to us in images and metaphors much like the beginning of creation: darkened skies, falling stars, chaos upon the earth, and deep questions rousing in our hearts. These changes will give birth to the Kingdom, much like the Kingdom gave birth to the beginning of all creation. These changes help us view what is most important today, since we do not know the day or the hour.
Praying through the images of Mark 13:24-32, Jesus says to us we must pay attention to what is revealed every day. He uses the example of the fig tree. When it blooms, we know summer is near. In the same way, when we see the moon darken and the earth change, we know God will lead us home to eternal life. We will live in his glory, in the full bloom of eternal life.
Jesus also says that heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will never pass away. In these words, we hear the echoes of the beginning of John’s gospel, when he writes that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word became flesh. Jesus points us to what he has been trying to show us all along in his life, that his words of love, mercy, and forgiveness will be forever what we cling to. His very presence is the Word from the Father. His words and actions, his presence on earth, will reveal to us life eternal. We are invited in these last days of our liturgical year to reflect upon the love that is revealed to us today that will show us the Kingdom at the end of time. We are called to surrender to his presence every day to the Word that will unite us in heaven.
Clinging to Jesus’ words reveals not only what will happen at the end of time, but allows us to live today. In our day and time, we desire love. We desire the richness of justice for people. We desire the hope that people will find real meaning in their lives and joy in his presence today. Faith is an open door. Trusting God becomes our goal on this side of the grave.
As we reflect on death in these November liturgies, we ponder the joy of his presence today. We conclude that only love will open doors. Fear shuts doors of faith. Stress and strain close potential to believe in God. Condemnation of others closes off forgiveness and peace. Fear does not lead us home. Only faith in God’s presence and joy of his mercy shows us the open door to the Kingdom.
In November, we have celebrated saints and souls, and continue to reflect on our own grief in the death of loved ones and our yearning for eternal life. November, it seems, teaches us how to live throughout the year. Surrendering to brevity of life enables us a true relationship with Christ today. Our human death will not destroy the soul. Hope abounds in the hearts of those who trust in the words of Christ Jesus, for his words will never leave us, no matter what happens.
But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor