33rd Sunday: The End Time: Mk 13:24-32

In today’s first reading, we heard the Prophet Daniel proclaim, “The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament and those, who lead the many to justice, shall be like the stars forever.” Today, our challenging question is: Do we want to be stars? Not the celebrity or actor kind of stars, but stars that shine brightly, illuminate, and guide. Does that sound familiar? Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is intending just that in the worldwide Synod on Synodality. The work of the Church on earth is to shine a light on and work for justice. This is how Pope Francis describes the work. The Holy Father Pope Francis said, “As we journey together in this process of listening, learning, and acting, we will discover many, who have been wise will shine brightly and also those, who courageously lead others to justice.”

Who are the persons, who shine brightly for you? What is it about them that makes them shine brightly, that guides and leads you to become a better person? Who are the Points of Light among us? The Prophet Daniel assures us that those, who lead the many to justice, shall be like the stars forever. What does leading the many to justice look like today? Where is justice needed? Who are the stars, who make efforts at justice in our world?

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus gave the warning to each of us: “The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and stars will fall from the sky!” This seems kind of depressing and causes scary feelings for us. Unfortunately, sometimes our lives can feel like this when things are going very badly in our lives; perhaps loved ones are sick, there are unexpected deaths, tragedies happen in our families, we are going through divorces, or facing unemployment and at present the Covid pandemic. Yes, sometimes it seems that the moon is without light. However, today’s scripture readings give us the message that what we often call the light at the end of the tunnel is really the hope of God’s grace that comes through the darkness. God has the power to bring light to any situation of our lives!

The message of the end time is not meant to impose fear in us but instead should awaken us to remain watchful and live in hope, no matter how dark things sometimes appear to be. Instead of worrying about end-time events, we are asked to live every day of our lives in loving God and loving our brothers and sisters. These messages of hope and love can sustain us, no matter what we are going through. We can have faith that there is always hope. We do not ever want to stop in the middle of the story when the sun seems to be darkened or the stars appear to be falling!

Let me share with you a story: In the middle of the vast forest, a battle was going on between two armies. One army was of a large number of soldiers, but the General of a small army decided to launch an attack as he was confident that they could win in battle. So, he called his lieutenant and told him to get soldiers ready for the battle. The Lieutenant called all the soldiers and informed them about the plan of attack on the enemy army.

The soldiers were ready to battle but they had doubts about themselves being outnumbered by the enemy army. The day for the battle came, and the General knew about the doubts of his soldiers. So, on their way to battle, the General told all to stop at the religious shrine for prayer. After the prayer, the General stood in front of his soldiers with a coin in his hand and said, “With faith in destiny, I will now toss the coin, if its Heads, we will win, and if its Tails, we will lose.” Then the General tossed the coin, and it was head. The soldiers were happy and filled with confidence going into the battle.

They went to the battle and executed their plan perfectly with a fearsome attack against the enemy soldiers. The enemy army was taken back by the attack from the small army. Finally, the small army won the battle.

After the battle, the Lieutenant told to the General, “As destiny showed us through the toss of the coin, we won the battle. So, no one can change destiny.” The General smiled and showed the Lieutenant the coin, which had “heads on both sides.” The moral message of the story is: Hope is like a light at the end of a dark tunnel. If we believe in ourselves, there is a light at the end, and we will travel the dark tunnel with confidence. So, let us believe in ourselves and have hope, which will lead to positive results in our lives!

Jesus tells us that God will never leave or forsake us. We need not fear the hardships we will face in life, for God will provide us with the strength and grace to cope with whatever life brings our way. And, if we are willing to cooperate with God’s grace and rely on God’s help during our times of trials and tribulations, God will bring good out of the difficulties we experience. And remember, there is always God’s Sign of Love around us!

Let us recognize God’s presence and the power of love in our everyday lives — through happiness or disappointment — and always remember that the Lord comes to us without warning. Let us remember that the Lord is present whenever we treat each other with gentleness, generosity, and thoughtfulness. Then we begin to experience heaven as a reality. So, let us try to live by the words of St. Mother Teresa: “Do ordinary things with an extraordinary love!”

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