for Sunday, November 15, 2015
Always at the end of the Church Year, we hear these readings speaking of the end of time, the judgment and God's love for us. We should never be dismayed. Even scientifically, the world will have an end. Whether we shall destroy our world before it comes to a natural end is another question. This seemed really possible and imminent a couple of decades ago. Today we tend to trust that political negotiations will not end in a nuclear holocaust.
Why the end of the world? Because speaking of the end of the world makes us much more aware of the question of a life beyond our death. Lots of people no longer believe in these. Lots of people in the time of Daniel also did not believe in life after death. Scripture begins with a dim awareness of God's creation and God's love for us. In time, there seems to be a growing understanding that there is a life beyond death. By the time of Jesus we hear of this division between the Pharisees and Scribes, who seem to believe in a life after death, and the Sadducees who deny such a resurrection.
So as we come to the end of the year, we are challenged to believe in resurrection. Followers of Jesus believe in resurrection, both His and our own. The reading from the Book of Daniel is from that part of the book that believes in a life after death: Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.
The Gospel of Mark which we have today speaks of the judgement because it speaks of choosing the elect. Not all are chosen. It is a question of how we live. Always in our Christian tradition there is belief in the existence of Hell, even if we do not have to believe that anyone is actually there. This possibility that we might choose eternally against God shows the incredible gift of freedom that God has given to us. True freedom is in choosing God and walking in His way. But there is still that freedom that takes us away from God and leads to Hell.
The second reading today, from the Letter to the Hebrews, tells us that Jesus offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God. Jesus has saved us. Yet in order for us to receive salvation, we must believe. That never means that we must believe in a way in which others can recognize our believe, but in a way in which Jesus, who sees our hearts, can recognize our belief.
My sisters and brothers, we have one life to live and it ends in death. There is life after death in Christ Jesus if we accept Him as our Savior. The end of the world is coming. Our death is coming. Let us choose life and the Lord Jesus.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Daniel 12.1-3
Second Reading: Hebrews 10.11-14, 18
Gospel: Mark 13.24-32
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: