Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Hollywood knows very well the way to combine religion and disaster themes into one movie; few years ago there was a movie titled, 2012[1]. The premise was that the world was going to come to an end in 2012 and as Hollywood hope a lot of people believed that there might be some truth to this. Hollywood knows the regular fear of death and the tendency of many to live in a state of near panic…

And you know, many of us are so naïve and live in such a state of expectant panic that if we hear that something horrible is going to happen and we learn that there is some sort of a religious reference, many of us believe whatever is presented. Then we come to Church on a Sunday at the end of the Church year and hear readings about the end of time. There are always readings about the end of time at this time of the year. Some will put these readings together with the 2012 thing and think there might be something to it. There isn’t. The premise of 2012 is based on a Mayan prophecy, and the Mayan’s were not Christians…

Anyway the readings we just heard have nothing to do with the Mayan Prophecies. They speak about the end of time but with a particular emphasis: those who trust in the Lord, and who live His life to the best of their ability have nothing to fear. Daniel says that the archangel Michael is the guardian of God’s people. We usually address this archangel as St. Michael. Daniel calls him, God’s Prince. So, we just heard that when the final days come, Michael will gather God’s people together including those who have died. And, the reading says, the wise will shine brightly. In the Gospel reading Jesus says that on the last day, the angels will gather the elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. By the way, Jesus also says, that no one knows when the last day will come, not the angels, not even the Son, only the Creator, the Father.

The basic message, though, is simple: Do not be afraid. Trust in God.  He will care for you. We need to do our best to get out of the fear mind set and live as people of the faith we profess. God is infinitely stronger than all the forces of the world. And He loves us. He loves us as a people. And He loves us as individuals. He loves us more than we can fathom. If we do everything we can to be open to His Presence, He will take care of us even if we were to be alive on the last day. St. Augustine put it this way, “If we do not resist the first coming of the Lord, then we will have no reason to dread His second coming.” By that he means if we live according to the way He told us to live when He came to be one of us, then we have no reason to fear when He comes again at the end of the world.

Perhaps many of us are not inordinately concerned about the end of the world. But each of us does have certain areas of fear in our lives.  Some are afraid due to their health or that of a loved one. Maybe we are going to die sooner than we expect. Everyone dies sooner than she or he expects. Should we live in panic like the pagans, or should we trust in God to care for us? We need to trust in God. Some are afraid that their lives are not going to turn out as they hope. No one knows how our lives will turn out. I never thought I’d be a priest in the United States. I don’t know what is going to happen.  I do know that my plans and God’s plans are often quite different. I am certain you can say the same thing. Where will each of us be 10 years from now, or 20 or 30 or 50? Whatever the future brings, we have no reason to fear. We trust in God. We are Christian.  We are people of Hope.

Today’s readings tell us that God is in control. We do our best to give ourselves to Him. He gave Himself to us for that very reason, so that we, in turn, can give ourselves to Him. As people united to the One who brings life through death, united to Jesus Christ,  we trust our loving Savior to care for us ■

Illustration: Illuminierte Seite aus dem Waldburg-Gebetbuch, WLB Stuttgart, Cod. brev. 12, fol. 70v

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris