33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B ON NOVEMBER 14, 2021 (R. 1: Daniel 12: 1-3; Psalm 16: 5, 8, 9-10, 11; R. 2: Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18; Gospel: Mark 13: 24-32)

FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO

Today is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. This means that we are almost at the end of this liturgical year. After next Sunday, we will be in a new liturgical year. The end of each liturgical year is a reminder of the passing nature of this life. It is a reminder that nothing in this life lasts forever, so, we must invest wisely. Our investment should be channeled towards eternity. As we approach the end of the year, the readings at Mass will be more and more apocalyptic in style. Apocalyptic writings are those that reveal things in a hidden way. They make expressions in coded styles. They use expressions that are not meant to be given literal interpretations. For example, in the book of Revelation, the author describes a beast with seven heads and ten horns. Reading such descriptions, an ordinary reader might be wondering whether the author was “high on something” or whether he was hearing voices when he was writing. Such writings are meant to be understood by their target audience and hidden from outsiders.

The first reading and the gospel passage for today are apocalyptic in style. Such writings are common when a particular group of people are under persecution especially from a wicked government. For example, Daniel wrote when the children of Israel were being oppressed by a very bad king, Antiochus. His goal was to wipe out everything about their religion. Apocalyptic authors write to remind their members that whatever difficulties they are going through at the moment will not last forever. They add that a time will come when God will punish the wicked and reward his faithful children. The promise of judgment and redemption prompts the oppressed to ask when it will be. Many have taken advantage of that curiosity to propose possible dates for the Day of Judgment. But Jesus settled it long ago in today’s gospel passage by saying that no one knows, not even the Son except the Father. Since we don’t know when it will be, the best response is to be prepared always.

Some time ago, I came into the Church for a private Mass combined with my evening prayer. At the introductory part of the Mass, I sat down to pray the psalms then I began to hear the Church Angelus (6:00pm) bell. When the sound of the bell was on, I began to hear another sound from a distance like a sustained honking of a car horn. After a few seconds, it changed to something like a car alarm, and before I could understand it that way, it began to sound like a trumpet. But this was like no trumpet sound that I had heard before. Suddenly, I became convinced that it was the sound of the trumpet from the host of angels signaling the end of the world. And I became very scared. Trust me, I was not high on anything, I was not hearing voices, it was real to me. In my panic mode, I ran a quick scan of my life, and I did a quick examination of conscience. I was glad my last confession was only a few days ago, and since then I had been in good form, I was sure there was nobody on my list I needed to reconcile with. There is no better thing to be doing when Jesus comes back on the last day than to be celebrating the Holy Mass. These thoughts gave me the kind of peace and confidence that I could not recall feeling before. At that point, I felt I was ready for heaven. All of a sudden, the door behind the sanctuary opened, and I thought to myself, “Finally, the angels are here to get me!” But it was a parishioner “sneaking” in to spend some time before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. After a few more minutes, the sound gradually reduced and faded away.

I then continued with the Mass, and after the Mass, I was so thankful that I felt so ready for the judgement day. But I became concerned that it was not possible for me to remain in the Church celebrating Mass twenty-four hours, seven days, every week for the rest of my life. What do I do? I renewed my resolution to never let any day pass without celebrating the Holy Mass, which connects me to what Jesus did once and for all for the forgiveness of sins, according to the second reading. And after each Mass, I have to set myself in the “Mass-mode” until I come back to Mass another day. This means, even though I have physically left the Church premises, I need to carry on with the aura of the Mass. It means, when I am driving home and that “crazy driver” cuts in front of me, before I use some “choice words” on the driver, I should first ask if I can use those words at Mass. It means taking the Mass with me in all my relationships and encounters so as not to be caught by surprise when the trumpet will finally sound.

But we are still in flesh and blood, even in the midst of our most sincere resolutions, we can still derail. As we are resolving to be the best versions of ourselves, the devil is at the “gym” training to get us back into the mud to get us dirty again. The good news in the first reading is that we are not alone, we have a lot of divine help. God has sent his warrior-angels headed by Michael to fight for us. As we think of the various battles we fight against sin and all evil as individuals, as families, as Church, as nations, let us invoke the help of St Michael the archangel as we pray:

St. Michael the archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do though, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell, Satan and all evil spirits, who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of the Church – Pray for us.   

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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