33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Today is the next to last Sunday in Ordinary Time. We’ll celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King next Sunday, and today’s readings remind us how close that is. The liturgical year symbolizes the entire work of redemption throughout history, and that work is about to be concluded so that the year can start anew with the First Sunday of Advent. Next Sunday we celebrate the moment of the work of redemption where Christ becomes all in all, as St. Paul would say. It’ll be the day in which the Christian prayer “Thy Kingdom Come!” is completely answered: the Second Coming of Christ.

Today’s First Reading reminds us what will happen on that day: the end of the world as we know it. When we hear those words each of us must examine ourselves so see what they mean to us. They probably fill us with fear, but they should fill us with hope too. Daniel’s prophecy speaks of a great distress in the world, but also the help of St. Michael the Archangel, the guardian of the Church, just as each of us has a guardian angel, watching over us and helping us in all of life’s trials. Often it seems the end of the world is something sad and distressing, because the world as we know it is about to end. In those moments we must remember the Lord’s promises in the Beatitudes: we’ll have the Kingdom of Heaven, justice, consolation, and mercy. If we strive to live the Beatitudes they fill us with hope, because we know Our Lord always keeps his promises. As today’s Second Reading reminds us, Christ himself, by becoming a sacrifice, has performed a perfect sacrifice that bring us forgiveness and will continue to bring us forgiveness. Our Lord has already won the war. Our trials in life are the last battles of a conquest the Lord has already achieved, winning over soul after soul until the end of time until “his enemies are made his footstool”: until the forces of evil are definitively defeated.

Today’s Gospel reminds us we won’t know when Christ will return in glory, but also to be vigilant. In contemplating the end of the world let’s be vigilant, but also full of hope, even though a little healthy concern keeps us on our toes during these last battles of the war Jesus has already won.

Readings: Daniel 12:1–3; Psalm 16:5, 8–11; Hebrews 10:11–14, 18; Mark 13:24–32.