Brett Fawcett


33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Nov. 15
Malachi 4.1-2 | Psalm 98 | 2 Thessalonians 3.7 - 12 Luke 21.5-19
November 9, 2015
‘There will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven,’

‘There will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven,’

Luke 21.11

November is the end of the liturgical year, and thus the time when our lectionary leads us to reflect on the end of the world.

We don’t much like to talk about the end of the world nowadays. Perhaps it seems too negative, perhaps even too fanatical and Gnostic for us.

But we must ask ourselves: Why do we find the idea this world will end so unpleasantly? Are we so comfortable within this world we don’t want to see it go?

If that is the case, perhaps we are too insulated from all the injustices and suffering within this fallen order, except when it strikes at us, or those close to us.

Of course, much of the affliction of the poor in this world occurs because we are so addicted to our luxuries, and to getting them at a low price.

A world system so glutted on the blood of the downtrodden ultimately deserves what the Bible says is coming to it. It needs to die and be transformed into something that honours God and the human family. It needs to go through the cross and resurrection.

This is what today’s readings tell us. It is interesting they stress what will happen to God’s people (“the least of these”) when the final judgment comes.

guardian of the people

Daniel assures us that while the nations will experience great calamities, the Archangel Michael will be the “guardian of the people”, and “your people shall escape.”

Not only that, but the wise and the holy “will shine brightly . . . like the stars forever.”

This is fascinating when we compare it to what Jesus predicts in today’s Gospel: On the last day “the stars will be falling from the sky.”

Put the two images together and a fascinating picture emerges: The stars (or “powers,” as Jesus also calls them in this Gospel) will fall, and they will be replaced by the righteous.

The glitter and sparkle of this neon-lit world will darken, and the radiant light of the righteous will glow in its place (“Let there be light!”).

One has to only look at the saints of the modern world — Mother Theresa, Fulton Sheen, Catherine Doherty, Pope Francis — to see a luminous joy that, as Scripture says, “the world cannot give.” It is a joy that, for each of them, came with rejecting the passing glories of the world, putting their whole identity into loving God and serving the poor.

And what of me? What if my world falls apart and goes dark, if I should lose everything in some earth-shattering catastrophe? Then where will I find my joy?

To answer, I end with these words of the old Protestant hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full on His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.