Live in the present

God loves us so much that He does not want to abandon us, even after our death. He promised us Heaven in which we will continue praising Him in the heavenly banquet.

Nov 13, 2021

                 Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Fr Bonaventure Rayappan

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Daniel 12:1-3;
Hebrews 10:11-14, 18;
Gospel: Mark 13:24-32

When I was in seminary formation during my early years, I always had this fear of whether or not I would be able to complete the formation and become a priest. This fear prevented me from concentrating on my progress, leaving me anxious.

Hence, to seek the light beneath the dark, I spoke to my spiritual father. In a deep serene voice, he said, “Bona, come to the present.”

A startled me asked him, “What do you mean by this, Father?” “If you want to go back home, what would you do?” he asked.

I replied, “Prepare myself for the journey.”

“Exactly! This is what you need to do. You must prepare yourself now to face the future. Whether you will be a priest or not, the future holds. But God has put you in this formation at This moment, to aspire to become a priest.

So, live in the present, thus the future will be good.”

Yes! Many of us live in the future while disregarding the present moment.

Today our readings focus on eschatology, which is the branch of theology concerned with the end time.

Speaking about the end time, the uncertainty and fear of the unknown overwhelms us since we do not have any control over it.

Today, let’s discover why we should not be afraid but boldly face the end time. Let’s look at it from three angles. First, the past from the Book of Daniel. Second, the present from letter to the Hebrews. Third, the future from St Mark’s Gospel.

What we have learnt from the past
The Book of Daniel was written during a time of great persecution of the Jews, a couple of centuries before Christ.

Daniel is one of the first books that includes an apocalyptic vision as prophecy. Even at a time of great distress, Daniel gave hope to the Jews that death is not the end. Daniel emphasises

God’s love and His promise of a new life even after death. The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity. (Dan 12:3)” God loves us so much that He does not want to abandon us, even after our death. He promised us Heaven in which we will continue praising Him in the heavenly banquet.

What we need to do in the present
In the letter to the Hebrews, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of God’s promise. “By virtue of one single offering he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying.”

Through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the hope of our own resurrection dawned. “Since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor 15: 22),” which portrays how Jesus willingly accepted the cross with love and obedience to amplify the love of God, cleansing us from our sins.

We too need to follow the footsteps of Christ to amplify God’s love to His people on earth. Consequently, we need to be ready to face humiliation, persecution, and sufferings now, to be raised to life during the second coming of Christ, for He is our Hope, our Redeemer, and our Mediator to enter Heaven.

Our expectations of the future
Today’s gospel is not a prophecy of doom but an encouragement to prepare ourselves for Him, who loves us the most. The Parousia is a hope, an indication that we look forward as we will face our Lord Jesus Christ and so experience eternal life. How do we do this? Simple and yet challenging — we do the will of God.

There are many ways of doing God’s will, but to show love, compassion, and empathy to the needy is the ultimate fulfilment of doing that.

As we celebrate the Fifth World Day of the Poor, we are constantly reminded by the Pope, “The poor you will always have with you” (Mk 14:7). This pandemic has created a new kind of poor amongst us – the urban poor. This new poor, not knowing how to overcome the situation, resorts to suicidal ideation. Let us together identify them and be the beacon of hope to serve as God’s hands and feet to those who are helpless.

St Basil once said, “The devil does not advise us to turn entirely from God but only to put off our conversion to a future time. He steals away our present time and gives hope of the future, but when that comes, he steals that also in the same manner.”

So let us not live in the future while disregarding the present, where God is working through us. Let us joyfully await the Parousia.

--Fr Bonaventure Rayappan is the assistant priest at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Klang.

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