My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We’ve just heard some very powerful words from Jesus Christ in our Gospel passage this morning.
He is talking about the end of the world. In those days, he tells us, the sun and moon are going to turn dark. The stars are going to fall from the sky. Heaven and earth are going to pass away.
And we are going to see his second coming. We are going to see him returning in the clouds, with his angels — coming to gather his children and take them back to Heaven with him.
This is an awesome vision. And Jesus gives us this vision this morning so that we will have hope — hope for our redemption. Hope for our salvation.
We heard the same message in our first reading this morning, from the prophet Daniel. Daniel also tells us about the “end time.” This will be a time of judgment and the resurrection of the dead.
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.
Some shall live forever.
Others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.
We are hearing these readings today because our Church year is almost over. It’s amazing how fast the year goes — isn’t it! Next Sunday we will begin the last week — when we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. The next Sunday after that we will begin the new Church year with the first Sunday of Advent.
As you know, during this past year we’ve been hearing readings from the Gospel of Mark in our Sunday Masses.
In the passage we heard today, we are near the end of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus has come to Jerusalem for the last time. These are very moving moments in the Gospel. Every word and action of Jesus is important — because these are the last days of his life on earth.
So in the passage we just heard, Jesus is telling us about the end of the world. But he is also talking about the end of his life — and about the end of our lives, too
My brothers and sisters, Jesus wants us to know — that God love us very much and that he takes our lives very seriously.
All of the sacred Scriptures are all clear about this. Jesus is clear about this. God made each one of us for a reason. He has plans for our lives. God has expectations for our lives. He wants us to use the gift of our life to share his love, to change the world, and to do beautiful things for those around us.
And, my brothers and sisters, Jesus wants us to know — that at the end of our lives, God is going to ask us to give an account of what we did with our lives.
God’s judgment isn’t something we should be afraid of. That’s why Jesus says today that nobody knows when the world will end.
Because that’s not what’s important. It doesn’t matter when the world will end, or when our lives will end. What’s important is what we are doing right now. How are we living right now? What are we doing with our lives?
So Jesus wants us to be ready when he comes again. He wants us to be ready to live with him forever in Heaven.
We are made for Heaven! The Psalm we sung today was about how God is our inheritance! That’s true, my brothers and sisters!
That’s exactly what St. Paul is talking about in the second reading we heard today.
St. Paul tells us that by his sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus has won forgiveness for our sins. He has made a way for us to be holy. He has made a way for us to be with him at the right hand of God in Heaven.
We are made for Heaven. That’s such a beautiful promise to us, my brothers and sisters. We need to really believe that promise! We need to really live like we believe it!
The best way to be ready to live with Jesus in Heaven is to live with him on earth. We need to have a relationship with him. We need to follow him, to live the way he taught us to live.
Every day is an opportunity to lead the Christian life, to live the commandments that Jesus gave us. Through our daily acts of charity and love for others, we are sharing in the life of Christ. Through our daily prayers and our participation in the sacraments, we are receiving God’s grace to help us on our journey.
So this week, as we reflect on the message of Jesus that we have heard, it would be a good time for us to ask ourselves about how we are living. Are we living for Heaven? Are we making Jesus Christ the path for our life?
This past week, I was taking part in the annual meeting of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. And one of the things we talked about a lot was the Sacrament of Penance.
This is a beautiful Sacrament. The Sacrament of conversion and the Sacrament of the new evangelization. Every confession we make is a beautiful chance to encounter Jesus Christ and his love. And his mercy and forgiveness. And getting ready for Confession is really a great way to examine our lives. It’s a great way to be really honest with ourselves about how we are living. About the improvements we need to make so that we can grow in love and holiness.
So maybe we can make a good resolution this week to make a good Confession or to go to Confession more often.
Also this week, let’s ask Jesus to come to us. The early Christians used to pray all the time, “Come Lord Jesus.”2 Let’s try to do that this week. Let’s ask Jesus to come into our lives. To help us to see the many opportunities that we have every day to share the love of God and to do good for others.
Jesus is going to come to us in the Eucharist that we are about to celebrate. Let’s ask for the grace to give thanks and to receive him in Holy Communion with glad hearts.
This week is Thanksgiving! So I want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I am praying for all of you that this will be a beautiful time to relax and be together with your family and friends.
So let’s ask our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary to intercede for us. So that we can have the grace to really come to her Son, to welcome him into our hearts, and to be ready for him when he comes again in glory.
1. Readings (Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B): Dan. 12:1-3; Ps. 16:5, 8-11; Heb. 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32.
2. Rev. 22:20.