Christ Accompanies Us to the End
November 23, 2021 (readings)
- Tuesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
- Deacon Erik Burckel, LC
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, be near to me with your Fatherly presence this day. Guide me through these difficult times and show me the way I should walk. I am yours, O Father; please accept my prayers this day.
Natural Endings: In this final week of the liturgical year, one’s thoughts naturally turn to endings. Winter marks the end of nature’s cycle, and the leaves are falling to the ground. We will soon be preparing to welcome the Christ child at Christmas and flipping our calendars to the next year. But for the moment, we linger on the year that is passing. We also think of death. Jesus says today, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” We know that our days here on this earth are finite. We are sometimes mesmerized by the glitter of our earthly existence, “costly stones” and the like; but these words of Jesus remind us that something better awaits us. Christ has promised to come again in order to take us to where he lives with the Father.
Christ with Us: Amidst the tribulations of the times, Christ issues this advice: “Do not be deceived; do not be terrified.” If we could follow this counsel, living in the truth and without fear, how many of our crosses would vanish! It is when we let ourselves be led away by distractions, by illusory promises, by exaggerated fears, that we cower before life’s demands. It is true that the Lord paints a dour picture in this Gospel passage–wars, uprisings, strife, disasters–but we can trust that he will always be with us. He is the one who dispels all fears and banishes all lies. He is the Lord of life and history. And that makes all the difference.
Do Not Be Anxious: We human beings tend to be very anxious for the future. “Teacher, when will this happen? What sign will there be?” Difficult things happen to all of us–sickness, setbacks, missed opportunities–but we do not despair! Christ says today, “Such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” God our Father has been preparing a future for us from the very beginning, “plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). May we not be anxious and instead trust in the Lord.
Conversing with Christ: Crown him the Lord of peace! Whose power a scepter sways/From pole to pole, that wars may cease/Absorbed in prayer and praise. His reign shall know no end/And round his pierced feet/Fair flowers of paradise extend/Their fragrance ever sweet (from the hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns”).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a sincere act of consecration and filial trust to you, the King of the Universe.
For Further Reflection: Pray this Litany of Trust.
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