34th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Rev 20:1-4, 11—21:2
I, John, saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Gospel: Lk 21:29-33
Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. 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.”
CONVERSION THROUGH OUR SURROUNDINGS: The laws of God and the nature say that the world and all that is in it are non-permanent. Jesus says in the gospel that everything including the universe is passing and only the word of God remains. Jesus observes that, people who can interpret signs in nature, refuse to discern the end times. The environmental and moral decadence happening in and around us invites us for conversion. The yard stick of conversion is to hold on to the non-passing values of the gospel and say no to the desires of the passing world. Only those who face life with the mind set ‘everything is, not permanent’, can live happily. Jesus says that in the world, only his words will not pass away. We shall pray to Jesus that we may develop awareness to the events happening in us and around us and hold to the lasting values of the gospel.
Prayer: Lord God, gift us your spirit of discernment so that we have a better understanding of what we should do.
PROPER PRIORITIES: The parable of the fig tree really more of an observation and a warning. It heralds the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus tells us that there are signs thatindicate the advent, the presence, and the power of the Kingdom of God. One needs to open the eyes to see the signs and respond to them effectively. The response depends on the preparedness of the child of God. Jesus tells us to have the proper priorities: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. . . . But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Mat 6:19–20). Then Peter, after reminding us of the temporary nature of this world, says, “Dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Pet 3:14).
PRAYER: Lord, teach me to be always ready.
YOUR FUTURE IS IN THE PRESENT: God’s reign is foretold. “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed” (Dan 7: 14). Every creation shall look up to this time. Here, it is imminent. So here is a clarion call to get ready for the moment. Man considers himself quite adept at explaining the weather looking at the nature. But he doesn’t conduct himself with that efficiency. Once, a man was digging huge pits around his house. He began at sun rise and toiled till sun set. A neighbor asked him if he has found a pot of gold. He replied in the negative. But he continued with his routine for many more days. But finally he was caught by the neighbors sleeping under his cot with a pot filled with gold. Man is caught up in, what he felt he had missed outside, that it had blinded him from seeing all the prospects in the current environment. He needs to learn to tap into the rich reservoir of inner strength. The kingdom you are searching is closer than you perceive. The ability to see God active in the realities around is really empowering. Let optimism run high.
MY WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY: The last lines of today’s gospel are often cited by fundamentalists to justify their literal interpretation of the Scriptures. True, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” What are the “words” that Jesus is talking about. Is it the word written in a human language, found in the Scriptures? Is it the set of traditions preserved within the Catholic Church? We could also interpret “words” as the will of God, as the plan of God, as the desire that God has for us. At the core of the desire of God for us is the covenant; an intimate relationship with God. This is the new heaven and the new earth that the Book of Revelations talks about: the covenant. Yes, the material heaven (sky/universe) and earth will pass away, but God’s will to be faithful in the covenant will not pass away.