Reflection for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) - November 18, 2018
As we march toward the end of the Church year, the readings this weekend turn our focus to the end times when Christ will come in glory. The prophet Daniel describes a future moment when those who have fallen asleep in the earth shall at last awake. The wise will live forever and shine brightly with all the splendor of heaven, while the faithless will be cast away into “everlasting horror and disgrace.” The Gospel points to a final time of darkness and distress that the Son of Man will defeat when he comes victorious in power to gather those who have remained faithful to his Word. Over the past several months, we have immersed ourselves as a choir into a musical tradition deeply rooted in these themes of trusting dependence upon Jesus, eternal life in heaven, and freedom from this world’s bondage and tribulation. The African-American spirituals and gospel songs we have learned remind us of the enduring good news that Christ has gone before us to prepare a glorious place for us. If we are willing to lay down this world and shoulder the cross, he has robe and crown waiting for us in the Kingdom. If we surrender to his guidance, he will lead us along the way to that Kingdom through our weakest hours and darkest days. As we close this year, may the songs we sing and the Gospel we hear draw us nearer to Jesus whose Word conquers all and stands true forever.
Jesus said to his disciples: “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Jerusalem, my happy home, when shall I with you be?
When shall my sorrows have an end? Your joys, when shall I see?
O happy harbor of the saints, O sweet and pleasant soil!
In you no sorrow may be found, no grief, no care, no toil.
Your saints are crowned with glory great; they see God face to face.
They triumph still, they still rejoice: most happy is their case.