33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
"In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates" (Mk. 13:24-32).
After seeing the recent incidents over the past months, one may conclude that Jesus "is near, at the gates." We opened this year with an attack on democracy in this country. January 6 was a terrifying day, similar to 911, except the attack fueled by deception was waged by us. Worse yet, we weaponized the eucharist in the Catholic Church as some men deemed that the church should refuse President Joe Biden the holy eucharist. In addition, many Church leaders fail to see their hypocritical actions as they stand for the Right to Life but are negligent in seeing that Black Lives Matter is a Right to Life issue.
On the other hand, we saw and heard some powerful stories that witnessed the glory of God as first responders sacrificed their lives for the safety of others. There are countless stories. However, the Michigan nurse, Lori Marie Key, singing Amazing Grace in the nurse's ward before a staff meeting was awe-inspiring. Her bravery captured the sentiments during the height of the pandemic as hospitals ran out of beds and the death toll climbed. Many more stories recorded this year showed us that some good people are trying to do good. Some are trying to live out Jesus' prayer for us to be one (Jn. 17:21)). Is this a sign that Jesus "is near, at the gates"?
For this reason, as you meditate on this gospel, the signs given are to help us see that Jesus "is near, at the gates." Jesus said these words for a reason: "Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near." The lesson I learned from the fig tree is that the tree depends on the season to tell its branches to sprout their leaves. It's not automatic; there is a season!
However, there is another lesson here in this gospel. Jesus said the following, "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." By being reminded about things passing away like the fig tree, along with the current generation and heaven and earth, we learned about the one thing that is a constant. God's word will never pass away. God is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. God is always present. Therefore, the Proverb writer encourages us in these times to "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; / In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths" (Pro. 3:5-6).
"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mk. 13:32).
Author: Evangelist Michael Howard, MACS