14th November, 2021

Bible and highlighter pen

+ Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away +  

 Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

 This Sunday, which is the last Sunday before the Solemnity of Christ the King, and as you know only two weeks before Advent – we are finishing reading and pondering the Gospel according to Saint Mark. As we have heard, at the end, the Evangelist Mark gives us something very special, something very unusual and mysterious at the same time. Today we meditate on the passage of the Gospel which tells us what will happen at the end of time.

I don’t know how it is now, but when I was in primary and then in secondary school, many of my friends and colleagues including myself were fascinated by various computer games and horror films that aroused our emotions and adrenaline. Sometimes our parents wouldn’t let us see these scary things, but sometimes they were more understanding and they didn’t mind. I remember that one of my friends was a Jehovah’s Witness. I am sure that each of us have come across with Jehovah’s witnesses and perhaps we know more or less what their faith and beliefs consist of. Because my friend was quite an intelligent and bright person, everyone enjoyed his company. We especially enjoyed his stories about the end of the world, about the apocalypse and also about all the disasters that will happen when that time comes. Very often during our school trips, we asked him to tell us more to satisfy our childish curiosity. We didn’t have to wait long, because our friend with incredible imagination was telling us about the end of the world, quoting excerpts from the Bible, including the passages from today’s readings. In those days, after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. An additional effect and even greater emotions were added by the fact that he knew exactly when all these disasters would take place. As the Bible says: Before this generation has passed away these things will have taken place, which means – according to the calculations of Jehovah’s witnesses – before the year 2000.

When after many years we all met again in our hometown, we recalled all the funny stories, our trips and adventures we had together as school friends. With a sense of humour but also with great respect for our views and beliefs, we reminded our friend that the date of the end of the world he predicted, or rather tried to predict was – to put it mildly – incorrect. He, however, didn’t remember (or maybe rather didn’t want to remember) what he had told us many years ago as a young lad, but instead pointed to a different date of the end of the world, this time – as he said – a certain date, but… this time no one was impressed by his prophecies. With age we became more mature.

I’m sure Jesus didn’t tell all these scary things in the Gospel passage just to impress or excite his audience. It wasn’t his purpose and intention for sure. He didn’t want to intimidate them and make them panic. Even when he was telling them all these scary things about the sun which will be darkened, about stars which will come falling from heaven, about the moon which will lose its brightness and about the heavens which will be shaken. On the contrary, Jesus wanted them to be more courageous and more vigilant. And we also should be more courageous and vigilant on our faith journey, because we also wait for His second coming with great power and glory – as the Gospel says. And this is what we profess every Sunday in the Creed when we say: I believe in one God Jesus Christ who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

A few years ago, I found out about something very interesting. Apparently, someone has calculated that in the whole Bible, both in the New and Old Testament, the words ‘Do not be afraid’ were used 365 times. Exactly 365 times, that is as many as we have days in a year. As if every day God would like to remind us the same very simple thing – Do not be afraid! – and as if He wanted to give us some joy and hope in all our worries and fears. Everyone who really trusts in Him, everyone who follows His footsteps, everyone who through their prayer and sacramental life remains in a close relationship with God, has nothing to fear, because he will be able to predict and recognize the true coming of the Lord at the end of time, and he will be happy and ready for this encounter.

On the other hand, Jesus assures us that this moment will always remain a mystery to us… nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, no one but the Father. Let us look forward to that day, and let us strengthen our hope that nothing can threaten our future and happiness if God says to us every day: Do not be afraid! And let us remember one more thing, that Jesus said and promised today: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. May this extraordinary Word of God be always very precious to us, let it be always on our lips and in our hearts, in our homes and wherever we are, because only on such a solid foundation we can build our future being completely free from any fears and anxieties.

Fr Gregory