34th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading those who remained faithful to the Lord despite all the persecution and calamity now sing his praises. The Song of Moses refers to the song the Israelites sung when they were delivered from destruction by the Egyptians due to the parting and crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1–21; see Exodus 14:19-31). Christ, the New Moses, has also led them through calamity and persecution into the Promised Land. It’s the moment of victory at the end of time when evil is definitively overthrown.

As part of the faithful’s song they rejoice that the Lord’s “righteous acts have been revealed.” At the end we will see completely how good and righteous Our Lord is. We may not see it clearly in this life, afflicted by suffering and evil, but we must trust and believe in it and it will be revealed one day for all to see.

We’ve already been delivered from evil through Baptism: the crossing of the waters of the Red Sea is a prefiguration of the salvation that comes through the water of Baptism. Let’s live in hope that the victory one day will be complete.

Readings: Revelation 15:1–4; Psalm 98:1–3b, 7–9; Luke 21:12–19. See also 14th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, and 34th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.

34th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading John shares a vision of the Last Judgment. Christ the King comes on a cloud, reminiscent of the prophecy of the Book of Daniel regarding a son of man (see Daniel 7:13). He bears a sickle because the time of harvest is at hand; Our Lord preached about the need for a grain of wheat to fall into the ground and die in order to bear fruit, and now all those grains of wheat have grown to maturity and are ready to be harvested. This is the gathering of the chosen.

At the same time an angel harvests grapes with a sickle to press for making the wine of God’s fury. This wine is an image taken from the prophets (Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15-16, 49:12, 51:7; Ezekiel 23:31-34), the reaping and pressing represent the doom of the ungodly: wines in a press are trampled underfoot.

Do you see the Bread of Life in your future or the wine of wrath? It’s up to you.

Readings: Revelation 14:14–19; Psalm 96:10–13; Luke 21:5–11. See also 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C and 34th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

34th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

In today’s First Reading, amidst the calamities and evils narrated in the book of Revelation, John has a consoling vision of the righteous surrounding Our Lord (the Lamb). Mount Zion refers to Jerusalem, the traditional place where the faithful remnant will gather under the Messiah’s reign. The righteous bear the name of the Father and the Lamb on their foreheads, in contrast with the pagans who bear the name or number of the Beast.

They follow the Lamb wherever he goes, which means they followed him all the way to Heaven, but by way of Calvary. They’re faithful disciples who have no deceit on their lips because they didn’t deny Christ or do homage to the Beast. Lying is characteristic of the opponents of Christ. They’re unblemished because they have made a perfect untainted sacrifice of themselves to God, singing a song of praise unique to them because it comes from a heart that loves Our Lord completely.

Any one of us could form part of this group, because everyone is called to holiness. All we have to do is offer Our Lord everything we have and are, fulfilling the duties of our state of life (married, consecrated, ordained, etc.) with love for him and for souls. It’s never too late on this earth to start.

Readings: Revelation 14:1–3, 4b–5; Psalm 24:1b–4b, 5–6; Luke 21:1–4. See also 34th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday9th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, and 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.

Solemnity of Christ the King, Cycle C

In today’s First Reading the tribes of Israel come to David and acknowledge them as their king. In today’s solemnity believers in Heaven and on earth acknowledge Our Lord and Redeemer as the King of not just an earthly kingdom, but of all creation, a reign that will only fully be revealed at the end of time.

Today’s Second Reading reminds us that we’ve already become a part of his kingdom, rescued through baptism from the reign of sin and death that oppresses and dominates a fallen world. All of creation was made with the Son in mind, and all of creation becomes his throne from which he conquers sin and death in order to present the kingdom to Our Heavenly Father at the end of time. Therefore today, the last Sunday this year in Ordinary time, we remember Our Lord reigning from his cross, but especially the day when he will return in glory and his reign will be total and complete.

The good thief crucified alongside Our Lord in today’s Gospel thought he would only be remembered in the kingdom to come, and Our Lord promised him paradise. We were born into sin and death, original sin, and rescued through Baptism, but we can return to slavery if we don’t turn to Our Lord repentant and ask to be remembered in his kingdom. Let’s ask him to reign in our lives, today and forever.

Readings: 2 Samuel 5:1–3; Psalm 122:1–5; Colossians 1:12–20; Luke 23:35–43. See also Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Cycle B and Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.

33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II

Today’s First Reading is a part of John’s Revelation that is difficult to decipher, because John communicates many things in the same set of symbols. John is speaking in symbols to the Christians of his time regarding the persecution of Rome; the “beast” here refers to Nero as much as it refers to the antichrist. The two prophets, in a context of Roman persecution, could be Saints Peter and Paul, who were both martyred there during the persecution of Nero. The symbolism of the olive tree and lamp stands means that they are martyrs (in Zechariah 4:8-14, olive trees refer to the anointed witnesses Joshua and Zerubbabel), not to mention their fate at the hands of the people’s incredulity and the beast who didn’t accept their message. Yet the passage is full of symbolism taken from the most miraculous prophets (Elijah), Moses (pronouncing plagues upon “Egypt”), and Enoch (who was taken up into Heaven). Rome is branded as “Sodom” and “Egypt” for its immorality and oppression of God’s people. Some scholars believe it refers to the Church as a whole, and Saint Peter and Paul are co-patrons of Rome and could easily represent the whole Church.

The fire that comes from their mouths could also be seen as a purifying fire: if you’re impure, you’ll simply be burned away, but the purity in you will be refined. This could represent the fire of truth: the Gospel. Everyone appreciates a fiery preacher, and they epitomize that quality because they’re preaching the unadulterated truth of the Gospel with fire and conviction. The two prophets seem to share the fate of all prophets: they rub their incredulous listeners the wrong way, and, eventually, are killed to silence the message they’re bearing. However, in this case it takes the epitome of lies and evil, the beast, to bring them down. It brings something new: the greatest calamity that could befall them (evil and death) are powerless in the light of eternal life. They’re not only restored to life, but taken up into Heaven. Until this point of salvation history being taken up was something either shrouded in mystery (as in the case of Enoch) or only witnessed by a faithful few (for example, Elijah and Our Lord himself at his Ascension). Now the wicked as well as the righteous see it, an allusion to the revelation of God’s designs now being manifest for all, something that will only happen in the end times.

When we’re faced with evil and death as the ultimate deterrents of this world we must follow the example of the two prophets in today’s readings and not shy away from preaching the Gospel with conviction. We are all those witnesses, and we’ll be rejected, scorned, and even killed for our belief, but in faith we know that evil and death will not have the last word

Readings: Revelation 11:4–12; Psalm 144:1–2, 9–10; Luke 20:27–40.  See also 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, and 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.