NOVEMBER 27. Ord Time B. Wk 34. Sat. Lk.21 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’
On this, the last day of the liturgical year, we are being given a warning; - by both Christ and his Church; - a warning about the values and desires of our hearts; - “Watch yourselves; - or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness; - and the cares of life!”
And how appropriate the warning is, given we are talking about either the end of the world or the end of our life on this earth; - it matters not which; - the warning is appropriate and necessary for both.
We are all aware many of the desires we hold in our hearts; - “success, comfort, wealth, reputation, health, status, appearance etc”; - are all matters Christ not only showed no interest in, but he warned us not to allow our hearts to be concerned about them.
He wants his disciples to give their hearts to one task only; - the love of God and neighbour; - the Great Commandment. All these other worldly and earthly desires are simply distractions that prevent us giving our hearts to God, to neighbour, and to eternal life.
The end, be it our earthly life or the end of time, will come upon us suddenly and without warning, with Christ’s words being; - “that day will be sprung on you suddenly; - like a trap” so we need to listen to what we are being told.
“Stay awake; - praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen; - so you can stand with confidence before the Son of Man!”
The spiritual life, or the invitation to holiness, is a remarkable simple life. Its primary concerns are matters of the heart; - what we determine to be the most important issues during our earthly life; - and I think most of us would concede we do spend an enormous amount of time and energy on matters with little relevance to our judgement and eternal life?
So, tomorrow Advent begins, yet again, with its focus on the coming of Christ, firstly as our redeemer, and secondly as our teacher; - and so he wants us to learn from him, and be faithful to his teachings.
This makes Advent a time for repentance and change as when we look at the example of Christ he taught a remarkable simple approach to life; - “I did not come to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me,” – the Will of the Father!
And interestingly Christ’s mother took a remarkably similar approach to life. When told her mission on earth was to be the Mother of God, she said immediately; - under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; - “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your will!” – Two responses we would do well to emulate as we begin Advent!
Gospel Acclamation Lk21:36
Be watchful, pray constantly,
that you may be worthy to stand before the Son of Man.
First reading Daniel 7:15-27
His sovereignty will be an eternal sovereignty
I, Daniel, was deeply disturbed and the visions that passed through my head alarmed me. So I approached one of those who were standing by and asked him to tell me the truth about all this. And in reply he revealed to me what these things meant. “These four great beasts are four kings who will rise from the earth. Those who are granted sovereignty are the saints of the Most High, and the kingdom will be theirs for ever, for ever and ever.” Then I asked to know the truth about the fourth beast, different from all the rest, very terrifying, with iron teeth and bronze claws, eating, crushing and trampling underfoot what remained; and the truth about the ten horns on its head – and why the other horn sprouted and the three original horns fell, and why this horn had eyes and a mouth that was full of boasts, and why it made a greater show than the other horns. This was the horn I had watched making war on the saints and proving the stronger, until the coming of the one of great age who gave judgement in favour of the saints of the Most High, when the time came for the saints to take over the kingdom. This is what he said:
‘The fourth beast
is to be a fourth kingdom on earth,
different from all other kingdoms.
It will devour the whole earth,
trample it underfoot and crush it.
As for the ten horns: from this kingdom
will rise ten kings, and another after them;
this one will be different from the previous ones
and will bring down three kings;
he is going to speak words against the Most High,
and harass the saints of the Most High.
He will consider changing seasons and the Law,
and the saints will be put into his power
for a time, two times, and half a time.
But a court will be held and his power will be stripped from him,
consumed, and utterly destroyed.
And sovereignty and kingship,
and the splendours of all the kingdoms under heaven
will be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
and every empire will serve and obey him.’