33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Daniel 12: 1-3; Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18; Mark 13: 24-32
Throughout the history of Israel the prophets used shocking, sometimes grotesque images, depicting the end of time. They lived in difficult times. The prophets hoped, by their shocking language, to draw the veil back so their hearers could get a glimpse into the future when God would exert power on their behalf. That’s the kind of language we hear in today’s gospel with its images of: a darkening sun, the moon not giving off light and the unshakable, predictable stars, falling from their positions in the sky. All that was relied on will crumble. Over the din and the tumult, the Lion of Juda roars. Who can ignore Him? The light of Christ overpowers the enveloping darkness. We are assured that the kingdom Jesus inaugurated by His life, death and resurrection will ultimately be victorious.
The name “Michael” means: Who Is Like God. The prophet Daniel depicts him as entering into the battle with a mighty shout that no one could ignore. Through the transforming waters of Baptism, we have been grafted into the Body of Christ. Having been baptized into Christ, we have been given a new name: One like Christ. Recall these words of the apostle: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me” (Gal. 2:20). The putting on of Christ is not merely a ritual act, but a new birth, a total transformation. We are to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of Light.
Everyone who has committed their lives to Christ lays claim to the title “Christian” which I will translate: One Like Christ. Those who are known as One Like Christ must walk in the light of day and avoid the works of darkness. This means that we must put on the character qualities and virtues that reflect our identity as being One Like Christ. In Christ, the old-Adam is crucified and the new creation has begun; sin and death no longer have authority over us because we have been brought of newness of life by grace. This newness of life is not for us alone, rather, it is for others. Like Christ we are called to make ourselves poor so as to enrich others. We live in a state of dependence on Christ, and strengthened by Christ we offer support to our brothers and sisters in need.
All who claim the name One Like Christ must be willing to stand in the breech and intercede for God’s people in need. Not only that, we must be willing to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to all who walk in the valley of darkness and live under the shadow of death. Those who are One Like Christ shall become shining light guiding others onto the path that will lead them out of darkness and that path is Christ. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being. Because God so loved the world, we have been call by Christ to be One Like Christ. Because we have been loved, we can dare to love. Pope Benedict XVI wrote these words to youth of the world in 2007: “Do not desire anything less for your life than a love that is strong and beautiful and that is capable of making the whole of your existence a joyful undertaking of giving yourselves as a gift to God and your brothers and sisters, in imitation of the One who vanquished hatred and death forever through love.”
We who are One Like Christ are to observe the signs of the times and set our sights on the kingdom that is to come. By being vigilant, we are to avoid the corruption of secular thinking and put on the mind of Christ. May we begin, employ, and conclude each day attending to Christ’s word, obeying his precepts, and following his example, that whenever he comes we may be found watching. Those who are One Like Christ must do only that which they see their Father doing. Christians have been saying for many years that “Jesus is coming soon”. We definitely have that sense that things will not continue as they are forever, but that major shakeups are likely to occur someday, in such a way as to affect everybody on the planet.
We have no reason to be anxious about the end of the world or live in fear of a great worldwide catastrophe. Our faith tells us that because Jesus rose from the dead, the new creation has, in fact, begun. When Christ ascended to heaven in glory, He entrusted the care of the new creation to us. Our participation in the new creation echoes the story of Genesis when Adam and Eve were charged with the maintenance of the Garden. Those who are One Like Christ have a part to play in God’s ultimate plan. They must look beyond the struggles of this world and keep their focus on the world that is to come. Only then will they experience the victory of God and set their sights on the things that truly last.
The Lord is in control of everything, and He has already revealed His ultimate victory over sin and death. When He returns in glory, He will usher in the end of the world as we know it and transform the earth into his dwelling place. While we wait in joyful expectation for the revelation of the Kingdom, we live by faith, doing the works Christ has given us to do. In response to Jesus’ teaching we must do as Jesus himself did: help people know the love of God; put an end to injustice and exploitation; reach out to the rejected and depressed; the lonely and unborn; prisoners and the despised. When you make your daily examination of conscience, ask yourself this one question: What is my name? I hope your answer is: One Like Christ.