33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B – Vietnamese Martyrs
My dear bothers and sisters,
Today's readings use images which announce the approach of the end, because as the Liturgical year approaches the end, the Church directs out attention to the end of time. In the first reading from the Book of Daniel we are given a preview of the final scene of human history - the end of time. We are told that the dead will be raised to life and that each will face the final judgement. The good will be rewarded with eternal life, and the bad with eternal punishment. At that time, Michael will rise, the Great Commander who defends God’s people. It shall be a time of anguish as never before since the nations first existed until this very day. Then all those whose names are written in the Book will be saved. Many of those who sleep in the Region of the Dust will awake, some to everlasting life but others to eternal horror and shame. Those who acquired knowledge will shine like the brilliance of the firmament; those who taught people to be just will shine like the stars for all eternity.
In the Gospel, Jesus first speaks about the apocalyptic events that will cause the sun to be darkened and the moon dimmed; with stars falling from the sky. Then speaks about the Son of Man “coming in clouds with great power and glory.” This obviously echoes the words in the First Reading, but here the Son of Man is even more victorious.
Through these signs, all we are told is that the end of this world as we know it will surely come. Jesus in the Gospel therefore helps us to read the signs that indicate the coming of the end. After that Christ will appear and send his angels to gather the just.
One question can come to our minds: what are the today's readings describing? In short, three inter-related realities: the end of this world as we know it, the coming of Christ, and the assembling into one place of all who are saved.
Finally, in the word of God, we can find out three messages:
1) The readings challenge us to take note of the signs to the times and to be always prepared because the end is hidden from all of us; we must stand ready as we live our lives in full view of that door which stands always open to receive us, the door to eternal life. It may be today, it may even be now, that we are called to pass through that door.
2) What is sure is that in the end the Lord of all history will finally triumph over sin and the powers of evil in all their manifestations in the world.
3) As followers of Christ therefore, we must heed the message of conversion and repentance in readiness for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
My dear bothers and sisters,
Our meditation on the subject of the end of time, leads us to honor the Vietnamese Martyrs, our ancestors, who died under persecutions of Christians. They may have been afraid of the cruel and violent death that was imposed upon them, but they gave every last ounce of what they had to witness to Jesus.
We honor our ancestors to give them the honor that is their due. But more importantly, we honor them by allowing ourselves to be challenged to give to God and his people not what is left over after we have taken care of ourselves, but everything we have and possess. Amen.
Fr. Joseph Pham Quoc Van, O.P.