November (17) 18, 2018
33rd Sun Ord Time
Sat 4:30 pm, Sun 8 am
Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32
You may or may not be aware that this is the 2nd to the last Sunday of the Church Year. And as always at this time of year going into the early part of Advent the focus is on the end of time, the 2nd Coming of Christ and the final judgement. The readings are ominous, even scary, as we heard today from the Prophet Daniel, “At that time…it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress.” And from Mark, “In those days after the 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.” Ominous indeed! But if a person is living a life in the will of God, a Christ-centered life they will have nothing to fear. If they are loving God and loving neighbor then there is nothing to worry about at all. But on the other hand, if a person is not, if a person is living a self-centered (it’s all about me) life, then that’s a different story. It’s like when you are driving on the freeway and you are going within 5 miles of the speed limit you have nothing to worry about right? But if you are flying way over the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic then you are in danger of getting busted for a speeding ticket, you are endangering your own life as well as the life others. Again, if we are living a Christ-centered life we have nothing to fear, now or at the end.
If you think about it, we are all living on the edge of eternity. With each passing day, with each passing year we are all getting closer to our own personal end where we will leave this world and pass over to the next as per God’s design and plan. That’s reality. And as we contemplate this more and more it should motivate us to focus on what really matters. First, we should appreciate the precious gift of life and the limited time we have here on earth. And second, we should not value so much the things of this world, material things that are temporary. Jesus tells us in the Gospel, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” In other words, everything on this earth is only temporary. Everything will rust, crumble and decay into dust. But the things and ways of God will last forever. Bishop Barron says, “Some people climb the ladder of success, trying to gain and obtain as many nice things as they possibly can (toys, houses, cars, bank account, portfolio). But when they get to the end of their life – they realize they were climbing the wrong ladder!” Don’t embrace the created things but embrace the Creator. Then we will be climbing the “stairway to heaven.”
In the Gospel, to help us climb the right ladder Jesus gives us the example of the fig tree. Our lives should mirror the fig tree. It feeds off of the nutrients and water given to it. It sprouts up, it blossoms and it bears fruit over & over. Then it withers and passes away. We as disciples of Christ should live our days here on earth feeding off of the spiritual nutrients & water offered to us (God’s love, His Word, the Sacraments), and we should sprout up and bear fruit over & over until we are called home. How do we do that? We bear fruit by living the Gospel putting it into action which is Stewardship. I whole-heartedly, 100% believe in the spirituality of Stewardship. It is living life with thanksgiving and with the “attitude of gratitude” realizing that all good things in our lives come from God. And because of our gratitude we joyfully share a portion of our God-given time, talent & treasure. We will always bear fruit and we will always be prepared for the end when we live the spirituality of Stewardship in love of God and love of neighbor. We share our God-given time: first of all in prayer. Then we share our time & our talents: in service to the community of faith, in ministry and in one-on-one acts of kindness. And we share our treasure from our first fruits, not our left overs or our crumbs. We don’t just tip God here and there but we as Christian stewards tithe with a prayed about, consistent amount to our parish and to different charities. Just like last week’s readings where the two widows gave from their heart, not from their surplus and it took their trust in God, we do the same. There are so many opportunities God provides for us to give back in gratitude trusting in him that He will always provide for us: tithing towards the weekly offering for the operations and upkeep of our parish, to our new Church fund and to outreach ministries. We can never out-give God!
Stewardship is not a 1- time thing, it is a way of life, every day of our lives. It has been said we can stop giving when God stops giving to us. He never stops giving to us and always provides us opportunities to trust in Him & to give back of our time, talents and treasure.
By living Stewardship we not only keep ourselves prepared for the end but we also “evangelize” to help others become prepared. In the Gospel it said that the “Son of Man…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.” Yes this will happen at the end of time but guess what? Jesus has already started to send out His angels to gather…His angels are you & me! When we live the Gospel by putting our faith into action we are evangelizing and we are gathering souls for the Kingdom. We are His angels by sharing our gifts with the other, by giving the hope of Christ to the hopeless and the distressed, by picking up those who have stumbled, by healing the broken with generosity, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. Yes we are the angels who have been sent out to gather souls for now and for the end of time into eternity! The Prophet Daniel said of us who gather, “The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”
In closing, yes the end is scary and ominous but if we live our faith by putting it into action, in close relationship with the Son of God, trusting in Him & showing it by sharing our blessings, we have nothing to fear! We will be climbing the right ladder and be helping others to climb along with us.