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Living in the end of time

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Thirty-second Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 12 November 2023
Wisdom 6:12-16 ><}}}}*> 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ><}}}}*> Matthew 25:1-13
Photo by author, PDDM Chapel, James Alberione Center, G. Araneta Ave., QC, 09 November 2023.

For the next two Sundays before the Solemnity of Christ the King, our readings deal with the urgency of the end of time, of the final judgment when Jesus comes again. Every Sunday in the Mass we profess in the Creed that “Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead” and proclaim after Consecration that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!”

But, do we really take Christ’s Second Coming to our hearts?

Maybe not at all if you scan the social media like Facebook or the news these days. Many people live as if there is no God nor final judgment. Worst, many have lost the virtue of waiting as nobody waits anymore in this age of instants! So unlike the Thessalonians during the time of St. Paul who all believed Jesus would come again in their lifetime. In fact, they were even so concerned with the sequence of entrance to heaven after some of them died ahead of the Parousia (Greek for Christ’s Second Coming). In explaining Christ’s return at the end of time, St. Paul insisted on two important points in his letter we have heard today.

Photo by author, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City, 06 November 2023.

First, the Resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of the end of time. We have to live daily as if it is the end of time. Easter is not an isolated event in the past; it is directly linked with everyone for all ages. Like Jesus, all those who have died shall go through “general resurrection” at the end of time when he comes again anytime he wishes. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thes. 4:14).

Second, the Parousia is God’s final victory over sin and death. Jesus had definitively won over sin and death on the Cross on Good Friday but its “powers” would finally cease and end at the end of time when Christ comes again to start anew everything in God with “new heaven, new earth”. That is why while awaiting his Parousia, we persevere in witnessing his gospel message of salvation amid the many sufferings we go through in this world like diseases and sickness, famine and poverty, wars and violence.

Here lies our problem – and foolishness – when we turn away from God, refusing to wait by falling into the devil’s temptation of “turning stones into bread” for instant solutions that have left us more divided, more miserable. We need faith in God who is our oil to keep our lamps aglow, giving light in this dark world even if we “become drowsy and fall asleep” while awaiting Christ’s return.

Jesus told the disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

Matthew 25:1-5

Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 2016.

Nobody knows when the Parousia will happen, not even Jesus except the Father. But the good news is that Jesus assures us today that it is normal to be drowsy and fall asleep in our lives while awaiting his final coming.

There are times we get so used to the darkness around us in life that we become cynical and even indifferent in our attitudes. We fall asleep, choosing to be mere bystanders, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, saying nothing, and doing nothing.

It is not good, of course. But, it can happen as we find our hands so full of our own personal and family issues that many times, we would opt to just “pray” than actively take part in advocacies and crusades against the many problems that plague the world today from poverty to hunger, wars and violence, human trafficking and prostitution to the destruction of our environment and climate change.

Becoming drowsy and falling asleep mean we get tired of all the problems and chaos in the world, even in our personal lives that we just want to stop and be detached, away from all troubles. No more dramas. To be silent until Jesus Christ comes to us in the dead of the night. Like the wise virgins, we keep focused on Jesus even if we become drowsy and fall asleep in his sure arrival.

Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

Being foolish like those other five virgins in the parable is abandoning God, not waiting for him, being busy with worldly concerns without thinking and looking into the wider horizons of life and realities.

Many times, the world seeks quick fixes to our many problems only to create bigger problems. Jesus had to wait until the hearts of the more than 5000 people who have followed him in the wilderness were opened to God and to one another before he miraculously fed them with bread and fish.

Being wise is having faith in God with good works. How sad that many people have foolishly turned away from God, even declared “God is dead” as they relied more on themselves and their technologies and modern thoughts that are often old mistakes in the past being repeated. Our bodies may get tired but never should we let our minds and spirits droop and fall behind, joining the materialistic and selfish bandwagon of the world. Being wise is to continuously seek God and his ways for a more meaningful way of living. This is the message of the author of the Book of Wisdom we heard today where God is personified as Wisdom like a beloved being sought.

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her… because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them in the ways, and meets them with all solicitude.

Wisdom 6:12, 16

Photo by author, 2019.

God is never far from those who truly seek him, who truly await him. There are always delays as God takes time before coming to us until we are ready for him and his plans.

There are many times in life that the solution to our problems require long waiting not only to find the best answers but most of all to purify our very selves. After all, the problems in the world are mere reflections of what is within each one of us as Jesuit Fr. Manoling Francisco expressed in his song One More Gift.

This is the sad thing with social media around us. Many times, some people use social media only to advance their own agendas that only add flames of hatred and violence. Instead of gathering first the facts and evaluating them prayerfully, we tend to react quickly, becoming emotional that we forget the face of every human person already suffering on the ground, regardless of their color and creed, thus continue the cycle of sins and evil.

Being wise is being grounded in Jesus, believing and trusting in his presence among us in everyone, that he shall surely come to save us and change everything for the best. Far from making us nervous and anxious, discouraged and careless in the uncertainty of his Second Coming, Jesus invites us today to be watchful and attentive to his presence especially in our Sunday Mass when we live in the end time, rehearsing our entrance into heaven as we wait. Amen. Have a blessed week!

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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

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