Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Around this time of year, it always happens: I will be asked, “when are the new missals coming?” Or “when will be get our new envelopes?” or “Have you decided on the Christmas Mass schedule yet?” Or “When will you have the New Years Mass?” Some are planning for a winter vacation, hopefully, others are thinking about a career change, retirement or downsizing. In his song, “Beautiful Boy,” John Lennon wrote the lyrics, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
In general, we live in the future more than what we think. Many are always hoping and living to buy some new gadget, receive a promotion, awaken new friendships, achieve some sort of accomplishment and so on.
This is called ‘future living’ and it is not a bad thing… there are benefits to it for sure. It gives us goals to strive for, it gives us a focus and it can challenge us to grow. However, too much “future living” can cause us to miss out on all the goodness that is going on around us.
Or on the opposite side, if we constantly keeping looking backwards, we’ll run into something… that is ourselves! Again, it’s okay to remember, with a laugh or with love for they are treasures to us. In our church, there is a move to go back to the ‘old ways’ that is being pushed on us by the younger clergy or the ‘traditionalist’ who feel that we have taken the mystery out of the Mass. But if all we do is to try and live in or resurrect the past, with the romantic idea of “what it used to be like,” we wont grow or even stay neutral, but rather we will bring on the end times.
We are ending another liturgical year. In two weeks we will begin Advent… the beginning of Year C, the gospel of Luke. Regardless to the year we are in, we always have gospel readings about the end times and automatically, they make think about the future. This Gospel is no different and it is not pretty, it paints a picture of doom and gloom and so we often ignore them.
“The sun will darken,” “moon will not give its light,” “stars will be falling from the sky,” “and the power of the heavens will be shaken.” We are tempted like the disciples to ask, “When will this happen Lord.” Look how Jesus responds: “No one knows.” That answer alone should draw us to pay closer attention at the present… where we should be living… in the here and now… that’s what counts!
As for those scary gospel stories of the end times, well, we have always been living in the end times. At the cenotaph this past Thursday, I could not help but think, that the people who fought in our wars were ‘living in the end times…’ many did not come home. The Great Depression, The Korean War or the War in Afghanistan… the same thing… people died. Along with earthquakes, fires, and disease are indeed end times for some.
I remember as a boy, we had a neighbour who lived down the street from us who was always dying. No matter what was going on…he always had something wrong with him. And because he did this, he drove people away… he was like this his whole life (he lived to be 94) but look what he missed by not living in the here and now.
With that being said, we could ask ourselves, ‘where do we see God in these present days?’ Where are the opportunities for us to be ‘Jesus’ for others? Look at those who are promoting vaccination, working tirelessly to help those who are fearful or do not understand the seriousness of not getting vaccinated. Are we doing our part by helping with words of encouragement? How can we still feed the poor, clothe the naked or give home to the homeless? How can we help preserve the environment? How can we stand with those in solidarity for a just wage? Are we going help Francis improve our church that will welcome all people by participating in the Synod? (You will be getting questions to answer, looking for your input/thoughts/ideas).
We know that someday, the end will come for us on earth. Like the gospel, Daniel’s vision described in the First Reading, “a time of great anguish.” Also like the gospel, his vision reveals “victory for those written in the book”: “they shall shine brightly… forever” and thereby give hope to people of their own time.
My dear friends, hopefully we are grateful for the past with fond memories of a simpler time. And the future holds no fear for us who believe in God. Rather than fear, let us anticipate our future with hope and joyful expectations because Jesus, the one we wait for is already here within and among us… now!