Gospel Reflection Nov 14 – Sr. Teresa
Sunday, November 14
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 13: 24-32
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.
“But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Usually when preachers look at the readings today from both the Book of Daniel and the gospel passage from Luke, the reaction usually is, “Oh boy, what will I say?” When the assembly gathers to listen to the words proclaimed, their eyes glaze over. Both readings are part of the apocalyptic literature scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments. We have had bits and pieces of this genre over the past weeks. Ironically, they were written to offer consolation to God’s people. Yet often when we read them today, they frighten and scare us.
The writers were responding to the present moment of their day – usually it was at a time of great chaos, collapse of institutions, loss of ideals and values, and loss of hope. They were times when evil seemed to be triumphing over good, faith in God seemed to be waning, and wars and petulance abounded. That sounds way too familiar to my ears! The writers were urging God’s people to remain faithful and that good will triumph over evil. God will reign so do not despair and fall into the abyss of hopelessness. They were and still are words that are meant to assure us that God has not abandoned us. Hope never dies (even though we might try to cover it up or deny it) and God is always faithful. All will be well, but it will all be in God’s time not our time.
Apocalyptic literature speaks of the end time and the present time. When I look at my life there have been those dark and painful moments when I felt that my world had ended. The sudden death of my brother and then the totally unexpected death of my mother were certainly dark times in my life. The times when I was changed from a ministry I loved and given a totally new assignment, I often felt life would not be the same again. Perhaps you have had those moments when you felt all was lost and life as you had known it was over: the death of a child, the loss of a job, a divorce, the death of a loved one, or maybe the diagnosis of a terminal illness. We each can name the darkest moments of our lives. In these past two years when the world pandemic raced uncontrolled around the world, we may have felt that life as we have known was over. At the same time, the exacerbation of racial inequalities, natural and man-made disasters, the murder of George Floyd before our eyes, the unbelievable attack on our nation’s Capital, and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan often overwhelmed us. In many ways life as we had known it is over and we are in the birthing pains of creating something new.
Ironically these readings also come as the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) being held in Glasgow, Scotland is drawing to a close. Pope Francis in his address to world leaders and the global community at large said, “We are at the edge with climate change, and the time to take action is now.” He urged Presidents and prime ministers “to act courageously in addressing climate change, and to learn from the coronavirus pandemic the need to create a just, equitable, environmentally safe planet. Both the global catastrophes, Covid and climate change, prove that we do not have time to wait.” These are frightening warnings but Pope Francis was speaking in true apocalyptic style and meant to shake us out of our lethargy. In the midst of the warning, the Holy Father offers hope. “We do have the tools to face the loss. We have the instruments. This is the moment to act. We need to ensure that the environment is cleaner, purer and that it is conserved. We must care for nature so that nature may care for us.”
God has always blessed us with great gifts and talents to be used for the good of all and for all creation. Let us take great hope and courage from that.
All of this reminds me of an old tale:
One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying flat on its back on the ground. The bird’s tiny feet were raised up into the air. “What on earth are you doing, Hummingbird?” asked the elephant. The hummingbird replied, “I have heard that the sky might fall today. If that should happen, I am ready to do my bit in holding it up.” The elephant laughed and mocked the tiny bird. “Do you think those little feet could hold up the sky?” “Not alone,” admitted the hummingbird. “But each must do what she/he can. And this is what I can do.” From Three Minute Tales by Margaret Read MacDonald
Each must do what each can do … what can you do — will you do — to keep hope alive in these troubling times?
-Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP