Home » Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 14th November 2021 – 33rd Sunday of the Year

Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 14th November 2021 – 33rd Sunday of the Year

Dear sisters and brothers,

As we near the end of the liturgical year, which ends next week with the Solemnity of Christ the King, with a new liturgical year beginning the week after with the first week of advent, our readings shift their focus towards the last things, that is to those things that will happen at the end of time.  In our readings and Gospel for today for example we hear of a time of great distress, cosmic upheaval, judgement on evil, Christ’s enemies being made his footstool and the final gathering of God’s people. These are big concepts, and we may find it rather difficult to grasp such ideas.  Are we to take them literally or metaphorically?  On the one hand it appears as if Jesus is saying that these things will happen soon, whilst on the other hand he tells us only the Father knows the time and hour when these things will happen, and that not even the Son knows.

Perhaps one problem we face is that it is difficult for us to conceive these things. To imagine, or even picture what the end will look like.  We hear of St. Michael the Archangel and the stars falling from Heaven, but what will that actually look like. Earlier in Mark Chapter thirteen, the same chapter from which today’s gospel is taken, the disciples ask, ‘When will this be and what will be the sign that these things have been accomplished?’ This is a very good question, what is the sign that these things will be accomplished?

Well, the sign is the Mass.  The sign is the Eucharist. We believe that Christ’s once for all sacrifice on Calvary is made present sacramentally in the Eucharist, so the past is made present, but in the Eucharist the future is also made present.  The Eucharist spans the past and the future so, in a hidden way under the signs of bread and wine, it contains and is the future. We say during the Mass ‘Until he comes again.’ We can believe and have hope in Christ’s coming again because he is present here and now, Christ present in the bread and wine, alive and lifegiving.

We can find salvation through Christ and through his saving blood.  In baptism we are washed clean in the blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of Christ.  In Holy Mass we participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Calvary, the one saving sacrifice which is made present, and re- presented here and now and in Confession we are purified in the salvific blood of Christ.

But let’s turn to our Gospel; at the beginning of our gospel we hear these words ‘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.’ But what does this mean?  Well for the ancient pagans the sun, moon and the stars were not only sources of light, but they were powers which ruled their destiny and locked them in.  So, the fact that these powers will be shaken and thrown down might be seen as a positive thing, an overthrowing of the cosmic or divine order of things.  In our own way we are just as oppressed as our ancient ancestors were.  We can be held captive by our physical and mental health, our own circumstances both financial and personal, our biology and our desires.

The Greek word for power is ‘dunamis’, from where we get the word detonate and dynamite, so Jesus is coming with dynamite to set us free.  In the Mass and the Eucharist these powers meet a greater power, the true power, Jesus Christ, who breaks the bonds of slavery and sin and sets us free: ‘Behold the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven’.  What are these clouds if not the Holy Spirit?  In adoration and Holy Communion this is what we see, this is what we do when the monstrance is lifted up during Adoration, or when the host is held aloft during the Mass, we behold the Son of Man. ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’

If we wish to be free from the powers that oppress us let us go to Mass, receive communion when we are able and attend adoration.  So that we may be truly free and ever more conformed to Christ.

With every blessing,

Deacon Liam (and Fr Simon)