Homily 33rd Sunday of the Year B: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Dan 12;1-3; Ps 16:5,8-11; Heb 10:11-14,18; Mark 13:24-32
Hope for the Redeemed
We are in the middle of November 2015, and the year is gradually coming to an end. People are marking and ticking their calendars in school and at liturgy. Liturgical readings are theologically selected to address eschatological and apocalyptic themes- pointing to the end times. Today's readings shift attention from old things to new; from hopelessness to hope, from suffering to liberation, from experience of inferiority to superiority, from death to life, from weakness to strength and from evil to the triumph of goodness. These readings capture what we experience daily in live.... Once in a while we do feel the sense of “O Lord when will this be over”? We do feel a sense personal, familial, collegial, community, or “global distress.”
Such distress could be the threats of war and terrorism; travelling insecurities, the burden of poverty, keeping faith, in a culture that attempt to redefined Church’s teachings. It could be the stress of trying to raise a good family, cut off a bad habits, or cope with illness and the sorrow or the pains of the loss of a loved one, or having to deal with inhumane boss at work. Others are distressed as a result of their uncharitable neighbors, or unjust and corrupt political structures of the society in which they live. It comes in different forms!
For Daniel and his friends of today’s 1st reading (Dan 12:1-3)- the challenge was how to remain faithful to God in the midst of persecution, tribulations, suffering especially in a hostile culture. Today's reading from Daniel assures the faithful that, “at that time there shall arise Michael (who is like God) the great prince, guardian and liberator of the people of God. Also many of those who “slept in the dust of the earth shall awake.” Daniel seems to be aware of the message of Israel prophets, particularly Isaiah 26:19, which says, “Your dead will live, your corpses arise. Awake and shout for joy, you who dwell in dust. For your dew is of light, and the land of shades give birth.” Daniel gives us a divine view of the world, where the future remains a mystery for every generations of the faithful. He basically reminds us that the promises of ancient prophets are worthy of belief for every generation!
Hundreds of years after, Christ, in today’s gospel( Mark 13:24-34) struck again this note of the mystery of God’s grace and redemption to his followers who were distressed, perplexed with the challenges of life, and eager to find answers to persecutions and imperialism of foreign powers! Divine mystery of redemption entails two things. First, the perfect sacrifice of Christ on cross, also spoken of in the 2nd reading (Heb 10:11-4, 18). He is the Son of Man who after his resurrection and ascension comes down “in the clouds with and glory” to gather and free the elects from all the ends of the world. Second, the divine mystery of redemption entails total surrendering to the will of God, since no one, except God the Father knows the hour.
As challenging as this message may sound, the question remains how do we manage distress, sufferings, persecutions, victims of religious extremists, secularisms, especially those ones I mentioned earlier, in pluralistic culture of today? It is with prayer, watchfulness, and with the attitude of a door keeper waiting for the master to return home. When the master returns to see the faithful servant, waiting for him, he is happy. He “elects” him or her, with joy and lavishes them with praises and perhaps with gifts. For us Christians- it is eternal life, life after death spoken of in the Book of Daniel (Dan 12:1-3).