33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: Dan. 12:1–3

In those days, I Daniel, heard this word of the Lord: “At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book.

“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.

“But 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.”

Second reading: Heb. 10:11–14,18

Brothers and sisters: Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.

Gospel: Mk. 13:24–32

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.”

In other words Fr. Bernard Espiritu, SVD (New Zealand)

As another year of the new decade comes to a close soon, so does the Liturgical Year of the Church. It is no surprise that our Gospel reading, at first glance, hints at the end of the temporal world. But when we consider its context, we see a sequence of events: the prediction of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the dissemination of fakes news, the attempt to wipe out the community of believers through persecution and deceptions, the passing of the temporal world. This sequence of events found in Mark chapter 13 may all bring fear and anxiety. All these allude to the end of something. Yet, this sequence of events does not end in tragedy. It concludes with the citation of the parable of the fig tree. And this is the key to understanding this gospel passage we read today. The fig tree showing new leaves and eventually bearing fruits denotes spring.

The fig tree is a Biblical tree. It is among the first trees named in the Bible, third in fact. Adam and Eve sewed leaves of the fig tree to cover themselves (Gen. 3:7). It is among the trees cited to be growing in the Promised Land (Dt. 8:8). It has been mentioned 37 times in the Jewish scriptures alone. It symbolizes peace and prosperity.

Our Gospel today brings, indeed, the Good News. In life, difficulties, disillusion, and pain may happen, but for a believer, those moments are part of the sequence of life. Every good garden needs hard labor. Gold is tested in fire. The life, passion, and death of Jesus culminated in his Resurrection that has brought us life. 

Let’s focus not on the problems of life, but let’s envision their solutions. A believer enlightened by the Word of God and nourished by the Eucharist that is blessed, broken, and shared in every Mass needs to be this missionary disciple who preaches and tells the future that is God’s. In the words of the First Reading, “But those with insight shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament. And those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” May we be the missionary-disciples that live and work according to the heart of Jesus.

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