THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
First Reading: Daniel 12:1-3
‘At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who mounts guard over your people. There is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence. When that time comes, your own people will be spared, all those whose names are found written in the Book. Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity.’
Psalm: Ps 15:5. 8-11
Keep me safe, O God;
you are my hope.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm. R.
And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay. R.
You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever. R.
Gospel: Mark 13:24-32
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘In those days, after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.
‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you, when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’
THE END TIMES IN OUR CULTURE ALWAYS HITS THE HEADLINES
Today we have our own apocalyptic visionaries – environmentalists warn of global destruction, activists warn of nuclear annihilation, etc. They call us to see signs of these possible futures so that we might change our present ways. Jesus talks of the future so that we might make a present choice for him.
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
Nearly every day when we go to our letterboxes to get the mail, there is always some “junk mail”!! Advertising for this or that, a note from a Real Estate Agent suggesting to you that many people would like to buy your house; should you wish to sell. Give them a call for a quick sale!!! I am sure that we have all seen that before. Then when you see in the midst of all this impersonal junk mail, a few letters with windows in them…. we may prefer to read them last; then up pops a Postcard from a friend who is overseas.
Once you see the handwriting, a spark of joy flickers within, and when you read it, you can actually hear the person speaking to you. What a wonderful experience it is, to receive the written word from a loved one. It can be read over and over again, and it fills us with a communion of loving friendship all the time.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’ Words are very important and very powerful. Once spoken, they take on a life of their own, for good or ill. Some words spoken by wise and loving people can remain in our minds and hearts forever. I remember an old priest giving us a Retreat when I was a Novice at Mary’s Mount Passionist Novitiate, Goulburn, NSW Australia, and he knew that some of us were facing difficult times as we came to accept each other’s differences, which is part of growing up and living in Religious Community. In one of his talks he said, ‘If you can’t change a situation in your life, change your attitude towards it’. That has stayed in my mind ever since I was 18 years of age. These words are true, but to live them can be very hard; yet it is real wisdom. I am sure that there are words and sayings that you have had spoken to you over the years, and they will never leave you. In the Old Testament, the Prophet Isaiah 43:1, we hear these precious words,’ But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.’ These words, and the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are evergreen, and they remain with us to this very day and beyond, comforting us, guiding us, and challenging us. They turn our values upside down. Once heard, they can never be forgotten. It does us well, to listen to God’s Word with all our heart and attention….” Lord, what are you saying to me through your Word today?” Spend some time in silent waiting, as the Spirit stirs an inner response, thus making its own reply in Words beyond our imagining.
Now let’s have a look at the first Reading from the Prophet Daniel…I suppose one of the first things that come to our mind is Daniel in the Lion’s Den! Well, that is a start; but let’s check out his name and what it means…..Dani el or daniy el. Now, you can see already that his name has something to do with an attribute of God, el being a prefix or suffix for El=God. Now the first part of his name means.. Judges or another English synonym would be adjudicator. So his name means, God Judges! That being the case, we see that inner and living aspect of God permeating like a silver thread running through this Book in the Old Testament. It is so important for us to have this kind of background, so that the milieu of the intention and delivery of God’s Word, has its origin within this Godly quality of El.
The next name that pops up is Michael…we have all heard of this Archangel of the Lord; look at his name….Micha….el. So, following our dissection of Daniel’s name, this one means mica el…..who is like el, God.
So, taking all that into account, when Michael begins to speak…the sense of occasion here mutes any chatter…JUST LISTEN! The literary form of this extract is what is called apocalyptic literature, it is a form of writing which is deliberately intended to shake up people who maybe hearing impaired to God’s Word or their possible lethargic responses to living out the God initiated Covenant, ratified in Jesus. It’s a bit like what we do to our swimming pools…..when it goes green through neglect or a broken down filtration pump….we shock it with chlorine, to get it back to its pristine beauty!
This kind of literature was never meant to be taken literally……no way, enough Hollywood Film Producers have done that for us…… But it works!!!! As we look at the natural disasters that have been happening in recent times, they have an apocalyptic flavor about them, and many people like to play on that as well, and make various predictions about the end times, or why this or that is happening as a manifestation of God’s wrath. This is where we can miss the point, and get sidetracked, and get embroiled within the fantasy of sensationalism. Notice what happens to the majority of people in and through natural disasters? Look at what happens ‘in’ them? It is a crisis, which means an ‘opportunity’ or ‘turning point’ to resurrect inner Divine attributes, like reaching out to others selflessly, bringing in the homeless to shelter, feeding anyone in need, as we saw on Television News with that dreadful Mud slide in Mexico, and the catastrophic effect of the recent Typhoon in the Philippines. In short, the results of the Disaster, even though horrendous, can bring us back to the basic humanitarian building blocks of community building. Unfortunately, it also gives an opportunity for some people to take unfair and unlawful advantage of others, and their goods. Wherever goodness abounds, evil often raises its ugly head…….even in some of the holiest of places. So, to cut a long story short, surely part of the message of the First Reading is………No time for resting on our laurels, because if we do, we might miss opportunities of being Christ to each other, and meeting Christ in each other.
Now, let’s go to the Gospel….here we have another fine example of apocalyptic literature in the New Testament, here in Mark’s Gospel, the first paragraph is like the setting for a huge 3D, surround sound stage, and the curved backdrop is a living collage of natural disasters,
cataclysmic as they may seem, interwoven with a multitude of ‘life-scenes’ focusing on unconditional loving moments of our global sisters and brothers, together with moments where opportunities for recognizing the ‘divine’ in each other has been bypassed. It’s like a JUDGEMENT! It’s like the personification of DANIEL! Then after all this apocalyptic commotion, the eye of the storm is present, and there is an eerie feel as what it is like being within the eye of a Hurricane. There is an unnerving silence, while the swirl of the water filled clouds surround us! Then with the Voice of Michael whose timbered tones resound and enter the inner quick of people’s spirits….the words in paragraph two are proclaimed……..‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you, when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’
At this stage of our realhomilie, you might be thinking that I have seen too many Movies……..Well, such a ‘shake-up’ calls us to be very sensitive to Christ’s presence in His people, His Word and Sacrament, just as our awareness of what happens with the Fig Tree, as summer approaches. May we be ever mindful, of the nearness of Christ to us in each other. Let us be alert by graced insight, that God’s Word once issued forth, continues to resound around the Universe through its own perpetual motion. However, we must make the move to tune in to God’s frequency. Words from God for all times and Seasons….As we pray while Blessing the Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil:-
Christ yesterday and today
The beginning and the end,
All time belongs to him,
And all the ages;
To him be glory and power,
Through every age for ever. Amen.
‘ Stay awake, be on the alert, for we do not know the time when the Lord will come in Glory! Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
‘Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my Words will never pass away,’ says the Lord!
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