33rd Sunday of Year B

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WATCHMOJO.COM (8:15) – The apocalypse is never that far away and these are what might actually cause it! WatchMojo picks the ten ways that the world could actually end in the near future.
8-MINUTE HOMILY

God Will Be With Us Until the End

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Today’s readings give us the assurance that our God will be with us all the days of our lives and that we will have the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, guiding, protecting, and strengthening us in spite of our necessary uncertainty concerning the end time when “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Each year at this time, the Church asks us to consider the “four last things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell – as happening to ourselves.

Homily Starter Anecdote

The conventional wisdom is that every homily should begin with a story to capture the congregation’s attention and to introduce the theme. 
OPTION A: Christ is Coming - Be Prepared

Christ is Coming: Be Prepared

When the bi-partisan 9/11 commission members made their final report to Congress, they began their report with these words. “September 11, was a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States. The nation was unprepared. …. The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise.” What follows is a long list of warning signs that had been generally ignored by the Clinton and Bush administrations in their pursuit of other matters. Things have changed since then. Now the unofficial creed of the American Homeland war on terror is, “Be Vigilant, Be Watchful, and Be Prepared.” We must not be caught off-guard again.

There are Christians who approach the coming of Christ the way the government deals with the war on terror. They ring out a danger and they announce a warning. With concern, they say, “You’d better get ready!  You’d better watch out — because before you know it, Christ will come.”

OPTION B: The Judgment Day

The Judgment Day

President John F. Kennedy was very fond of a particular story, which he often used to close his speeches during his 1960 presidential campaign. It is the story of Colonel Davenport, Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives back in the year 1789.  One day, while the House was in session, the sky of Hartford suddenly grew dark and gloomy. Some of the Evangelical House representatives looked out the windows and thought this was a sign that the end of the world had come.  Uproar ensued, with the representatives calling for immediate adjournment.  But Davenport rose and said, “Gentlemen, the Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not.  If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment.  If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.  Therefore, I wish that candles be brought.”  Candles were brought and the session continued.

Today’s readings contain the same message: we need always to be prepared to receive Jesus at his second coming by accepting Jesus now as our personal Savior and doing now what Jesus has commanded us to do.

OPTION C: Scientists on the End of the World

Scientists on the End of the World

Scientists have fueled public anxiety by citing a series of possible ways in which the world could come to an end, e.g.

  1. Sucked into a black hole. A large dead star which has collapsed and has become so incredibly dense that even light cannot escape it, a “black hole” is thought to be a fatal attraction for any nearby matter;
  2. Climate change. Another ice age or glacial period is expected in 2,000–10,000 years; if and when it occurs, over eight billion people will try to survive on 30% less land mass; (
  3. The Greenhouse Effect. A predicted temperature increase of 6o F is expected by the year 2030; if this occurs, polar regions will thaw, ocean levels will rise and vast areas of earth will be flooded;
  4. Collision. Earth may be hit by a meteorite, asteroid or comet;
  5. Cosmic Rays. Earth’s magnetic field is waning at present, making it susceptible to the rays of an exploding supernova and/or solar flares;
  6. Nuclear War and its Aftermath. A familiar and frightening scenario: a possible nuclear war could wipe out up to 90% of the U.S. population and 50% of that of Russia;
  7. The Death of the Sun. Considered as the ultimate disaster, the eventual cooling of the sun will occur only after an intense period of heating up which will boil away earth’s oceans and bake its crust unto lifelessness. [Celebration Files]

But today’s readings give us the assurance that our God will be with us all the days of our lives and that we will have the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst guiding, protecting and strengthening us in spite of our necessary human uncertainty concerning the end time when “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” So, the Church advises us to entrust the unknown and unknowable future to God’s caring and capable hands.

Click on chevron banners for additional insights into this week’s scripture in order to relate it to the lives of your parishioners.

Intro to Readings

The readings invite us to focus our attention on the threefold coming of Jesus: 1) His first coming according to the flesh, as Redeemer. 2) His second coming, either at our death, or at the end of time and the world, which will bring our salvation to completion. 3) His coming into our lives each time we step forward in genuine Christian living.

First Reading Remarks

The first reading, taken from the prophet Daniel (167 BC), was originally given to comfort and give hope to the Jewish people persecuted by a cruel pagan king. It advises us to live wisely and justly in the present time, instead of worrying about the unknown future. Through the Psalm Response for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 16), the Holy Spirit has us sing our Faith affirmation, “You are my inheritance, O Lord!”

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Additional insights on the First Reading from Fr. Tony

Today’s first reading, taken from the prophet Daniel (167 BC), originally given to comfort and give hope to the Jewish people being persecuted by a cruel pagan king, advises us to live wisely and justly in the present time instead of worrying about the unknown future.  In the second century BC, the Jews were conquered by the Greeks.  The Greek king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, tried to Hellenize the Jews by imposing Greek norms on them, by forbidding them to practice circumcision, by stripping the Temple of its valuables, by burning the Torah scrolls, by introducing the worship of Greek gods to the Jews, forcing the Jews to join in the worship of these pagan gods.  In this frightening and dangerous time, the Lord God’s prophetic message to Israel through Daniel addressed the needs of the suffering Jewish people, bolstering their morale and promising them the sure and definite intervention of Yahweh, their God of power and glory, even if they faced persecutions and hardship for a short term.  Hence, they believed that Yahweh was on the verge of stepping into the world and definitively changing everything (Dan 12:1-3).  This short passage also describes the “great tribulation,” the “resurrection of the dead” and the Divine Judgment with its rewards for the wise and righteous and its punishments for the foolish and wicked.  Thus, today’s selection from Daniel introduces the belief in the resurrection of the dead and makes the first mention in the Bible of “everlasting life,” while such a doctrine was almost unprecedented among Jews even in the second century BC. Although this world will have an end marked by great upheavals and disasters, these will be followed immediately by a new and everlasting existence.


Second Reading Summary

In today’s second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews challenges us to look to the future with hope and serenity because Jesus, having secured the forgiveness of our sins and our sanctification through the sacrifice on the cross, sits forever at God’s right hand as the one Mediator between man and God.

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Additional insights on the Second Reading from Fr. Tony

St. Paul continues to contrast the priesthood of Christ with the Jewish priesthood. This reading challenges us to look to the future with hope and serenity because Jesus, sitting forever at God’s right hand, is the Mediator Who secured the forgiveness of our sins and our sanctification through His willing, sacrificial death on the cross. The letter to the Hebrews was written for Jewish converts to Christ, in part to help them cope with the loss of the comforts they had enjoyed within the institutions of Judaism and from which they had been excluded by their conversion.  The author’s intent was to show that Jesus Himself had replaced those old institutions and exceeded them.  In today’s passage, the institutions in question are priesthood and sacrifices.  The author asserts that the old, repetitious sacrifices were futile, while the one sacrifice of Jesus makes us perfect forever and wins the forgiveness of sin, rendering further sacrifice unnecessary. Through Jesus’ saving gift of Himself, perfect praise has been offered to God, sin and guilt, have been expiated, and our absolute, intimate union with God has been achieved.  Jesus continues His priestly work in Heaven by interceding  for us in the presence of God, the Father. Furthermore, Jesus, the new and the only High Priest, has a seat at God’s right hand, closer than any other priest has ever come to Him.  For Jesus’ sacrifice made possible the forgiveness of sins and the formation of a new relationship between God and humankind.


Gospel Summary

Today’s Gospel, taken from Mark (AD 69), offered hope to early Christians persecuted by the Roman Emperor Nero, by reminding them of Jesus’ words about His glorious return to earth with great power and glory as Judge to gather and reward the elect. Daniel and Markcontinue toremind us that God will ensure that the righteous will survive the ordeal and will find a place with Him. Through the parable of the fig tree, Jesus warns us all to read the “signs of the time,” reminding us that we must be ever prepared to give an account of our lives to Jesus when He comes in glory as our Judge, because we cannot know “either the day or the hour” of His Second Coming.

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Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

The context: Mark’s Gospel, written some 40 years after Jesus’ death, is the simplest, shortest, and oldest of the four Gospels.  This week’s Gospel text is taken from the thirteenth chapter of Mark, which, together with Matthew 24 and Luke 21, is often called the “Little Apocalypse.”  Apocalypse literally means unveiling. The whole of Mark’s thirteenth chapter is full of apocalyptic imagery and predictions borrowed from the Old Testament.  Verses 24-27 are taken from images appearing in the prophecies of Joel (2:10), Isaiah (13:10; 34:4), Daniel (7:13), Deuteronomy (30:3), and Zechariah (2:10).  Jesus skillfully weaves all these various strands into one powerful vision.  The Gospel of Mark was written in the year 69 AD, just one year before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, at a time when the Romans were suppressing Jewish protests and persecuting Christians.  Many Christians began wondering why Jesus did not return as He had promised.  Some even wondered whether he had really been the promised Messiah.  Hence, Mark tried to strengthen their Faith by quoting Jesus’ predictions of the coming persecution of the faithful (13:9-13), the destruction of Jerusalem (13:2, 7-9, 14-20), the rise of the Anti-Christ (13:5-6, 21-23), the end of the world, and Christ’s Second Coming (13:24-26).  Mark also offered hope to a persecuted community by reminding the people of Jesus’ promise that wars, natural disasters and betrayal by family members would be overcome when the Son of Man returned to earth to gather in His loved ones.


The glorious coming of the Son of Man: In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the displacement of celestial bodies at the end of the world, followed by the appearance of the Son of Man in glory to establish the Reign of God.  The coming of the Son of Man, “in clouds with great power and glory,” echoes a passage in Daniel.  Cosmic disturbances of the sun, moon, and stars are images traditionally associated with the manifestations of God’s judgment on Israel. In the Creed we recite at Mass, we proclaim that Jesus “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” The New Testament writers used the Greek word Parousia which means the arrival and presence of a king, to describe this second coming of Jesus. Although no time-frame is given in the Gospels for the period between the destruction of Jerusalem and the final coming of Jesus as King and Lord of all, the early Christians believed that Jesus would come in their lifetime, based on their understanding of Jesus’ promise in Mark, “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.”


Parable of the fig tree and warning for watchfulnessJesus gives a warning lesson from the fig tree, using stock prophetic expressions well known to his listeners (Ezra 9:3; 13:1; Baruch 27:5-13; Amos 8:9; Joel 2:10, 3:15; Ezekiel 32: 7, 8; Isaiah 27:13, 35; Micah 7:12; Zechariah 10:6-11).  The fig tree sprouts its leaves in late spring heralding the summer season.  The application of this image to the end of the world suggests that the end of the world will mean good times, or summer, for Jesus’ disciples, because their God will be bringing things to a triumphant end, and His Truth, Love, and Justice will prevail forever.  But we must always be well prepared to face our judgment because we do not know the day nor the hour, either of the ending of the world or of our own call from this life.  Hence, true disciples are to watch and wait in a state of readiness.  Instead of worrying about the endtime events, we are asked to live every day of our lives in loving God in Himself and as living in others through our committed service.  Thus, we will enter into a deeper relationship with God, which will continue when we pass through death into a different kind of life.

Life messages

Recognize the “Second Coming” of Jesus in Daily Life

Let us recognize the “second coming” of Jesus in our daily lives through everyday occurrences, always remembering that Jesus comes without warning. But let us not get frightened at the thought of Christ’s Second Coming, because Jesus is with us every day, abiding with the Father and the Holy Spirit in our hearts, dwelling in our Church in the Holy Eucharist, teaching us in the Holy Bible, and unifying us with Him and each other in our worshipping communities. We will be able to welcome Jesus in His Second Coming as long as we faithfully do the will of God by daily serving our brothers and sisters, recognizing Christ’s presence in them, and by being reconciled with God and with our brothers and sisters every day.


Learn the Lesson from the Fig Tree

Jesus tells us that our personal “endtime” is a prelude to eternal happiness.  However, we are all so taken in by our secular culture’s fascination and glamour that we are sometimes embarrassed or saddened by the signs of our own approaching end.  We foolishly consider growing old as an evil thing, rather than as a warning from a loving God to prepare to meet Him and to give an account of our lives.  Our aches and pains and frequent “doctor’s appointments” in our senior years should remind us of God’s warning that we are growing unfit to live in this world, and that we have to get ready for another world of eternal happiness.  Hence, let us take the spirit of the 27th Psalm: “Wait for the Lord.  Take courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord” (v. 14).

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 Let us take heart and not be frightened

The end of the world should never be thought of as depressing, disheartening, or frightening because we are in the hands of a good and loving God.  Christ’s second coming gives us the message that God is journeying with us in the trials and difficulties of life, and that His word is ever-present as a light of hope.  He speaks to us through the Bible.  We have the Eucharist as a sign that God is with us, in our midst.  Holy Communion is our point of direct, personal contact with God.  That is why the holy Mass is special: the more fully and frequently we participate in the Mass, the more deeply the Lord can come to us, and the more completely He can remain with us. Let no one frighten us with disturbing descriptions of the end of the world because “the end” is all about the birth of everyone and everything into eternity.


Are we ready to meet our Lord with a clear conscience? 

Suppose we were to learn today that we had just one year to live – that we would die on November 14, 2022.  What changes would we make in our lives?  If, to our dismay, we find there are several things which have to be put right before facing our Judge we will start right away to put them right. We will put our books in order; we will make peace with God and our neighbors. How would we spend our time, talents, wealth?  What changes would we make in our priorities? Would we be concerned about the petty quarrels and bickering of life?  No!  The next twelve months would be the best year of our lives because we would spend our time doing loving, holy and worthwhile things.

End of homily

Jokes of the Week

At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, OR CONGREGATIONS. 

CHOOSE ONE

#1: “You’ll wish you were Jewish!!”  A Protestant minister and a Catholic priest enjoyed teasing their Jewish rabbi friend, continually asking him when he was going to convert to their Faith.  When the Holidays rolled around, the rabbi sent them a card with the following: “Season’s Greetings!  Roses are reddish, Violets are bluish; When the Messiah comes, you’ll wish you were Jewish!!”

#2: Missed the “rapture” by a minute:  A certain man, Herbert Washington by name, was so taken up by the nearness of Christ’s second coming and “the rapture” that he became a pain in the neck to his coworkers.  So his coworkers hatched a plan to pay him back in his own coin.  One day, when Herbert went to the washroom, they laid their work clothes on their chairs and hid in the supply room.  When Herbert came back from the washroom, he thought the rapture had taken place.  The Muslim janitor, who was part of the joke, pretended to have witnessed everyone disappear and ran around the office feigning panic.  Herbert fell to the ground clutching his heart and screaming, “I knew you’d forget me, Jesus!  What did I do wrong?”  He was rushed to a local hospital with what was diagnosed as a mild heart attack. (Fr. Munachi).

#3: The Second Coming. A Sunday school teacher asked his class, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the Church, would that get me into Heaven?  “NO!” the children all answered.  “If I cleaned the Church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?”  Again, the answer was, “NO!”  Again the teacher asked, “Well, then, if I were kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my wife, would that get me into Heaven?”  Again, they all answered, “NO!”  “Well then how can I get into Heaven?”  A five-year-old boy shouted out, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD!”  Good insight for a five-year old!

#4: Somnambulist or Methodist? “Be constantly on the watch!  Stay awake,” Jesus commands.  The signs-of-the-times are such that, clearly, this is no time for somnambulists.  A somnambulist, as you know, is a person who walks in his sleep.  On the eve of his wedding, a young man decided to confess all to his fiancée.  He went to her and said, “My love, there is something I feel I must tell you before we are married; something you must know. It may make a difference in your feeling toward me.  You see, I am a somnambulist.”  The young lady thought for a moment, then replied, “Oh that’s all right.  There’s no problem.  I was raised a Methodist.  We can go to your Church one Sunday and to mine the next.”

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week. Since Fr. Tony is retiring from parish duties, he has started a personal website: https://frtonyshomilies.com/ where he has started putting his Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA lessons, Faith Formation articles and other useful items for pastors and pastoral assistants. Fr. Tony warmly invites priests and deacons and the public to visit his website and use it for their preaching and teaching ministries. He welcomes your corrections, modifications and suggestions to improve the homilies and articles given in this website.
The Rapture sequence taken from the first film of the Left Behind series, Left Behind: The Movie.

Left Behind

The scene is the interior of a Boeing 747. It is the wee hours of morning and the plane is somewhere over the Atlantic en route to London. The captain leaves his cockpit and strolls down the aisle intending to flirt with the senior flight attendant. She is in shock. People are missing. They have vanished leaving shoes, socks, clothes, jewelry-everything behind. An elderly lady, sitting in first class, cries as she holds her husband’s sweater and pants. She has been left behind. (Matthew 24:40): “Two men will be in the field, one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill, one will be taken and the other left.” So begins Left Behind, the first novel of the immensely popular fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Sixteen volumes are now on the market with 62 million copies sold for $650 million, along with a movie, web site, 2002 calendar, and survivor kits for children and youth. Tyndale publishers tripled their company’s profits in two years.

But the truth is that Left Behind is fiction, not fact. It has more to do with finances than faith. Its miracle lies in its marketing, not its theology. The Rapture, on which the whole series is built, is the remote idea that believers will somehow be caught up in the clouds with Jesus to avoid the great persecution spreading over the earth. Matthew knows nothing about “rapture” when he talks about the endtime. Just read the text. In Verse 36 we read, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Who of us is smarter than Jesus? Jesus didn’t even know. Why should we try to second guess the Savior?

“Ready or not, here I come.”

One of the most memorable games from my childhood days is the game of hide-and-seek. On many occasions throughout the year, the family would gather at my grandparents’ home. The children would usually start a game of hide-and-seek.

When the game started, someone was chosen to be “it”.  A spot was chosen to be “base”. Whoever was “it” would stand at “base” with closed eyes and count to 100. The other players ran and hid. Then it was “its” job to find them before they could return to “base”. The game ended when everyone made it back to “base”, or when “it” found someone who was hiding. In the next game, the person who was caught became “it”.

The part of that game that still echoes in my mind is what “it” would say before he or she came looking for those who were hiding. “It would always say, “Ready or not, here I come.” When “it” said that, you had better be ready, or you were going to be in trouble.

When I read these verses, that old childhood game came back to my memory. Jesus is telling His men that there will be a day when He will come again. That day will arrive whether people are ready or not. (SNB files)


In his famous speech, General Douglas MacArthur boldly declared, “I shall return.” Having left the Japanese-occupied Philippines, MacArthur’s words brought hope to a captive people. Two thousand years earlier, Jesus made the same promise to a world held captive in sin: “I will come again!” Join Pastor John Bradshaw on location on Corregidor Island in the Philippines and learn what the Bible says about the Second Coming of Jesus.

“I Shall Return”

IT IS WRITTEN (28:30) – The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on December 7th, 1941. Soon after, they invaded and occupied the Philippines. The US General Douglas McArthur was stationed in the Philippines, and on March 11th, 1942, he was forced to leave the islands. Before leaving for Australia, he promised the islanders “I shall return.”

On October 20th, 1944, two and a half years later, he kept his promise. He landed on one of the islands and announced, “I have returned.” This heralded freedom for the Philippines.

Jesus assures us: “Heaven and earth shall pass away before My Word passes away.” (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho).


Pastor Joe Sweet tells the story of Starr Daily and how the love of Christ transformed him whilst in solitary confinement.

It Began in “the Hole”: How Love Can Open Prison Doors 

There is a story of a hardened criminal serving a life sentence, who felt such despair that life had no longer any hope for him. His behavior got so mean that he was sent to solitary confinement for three weeks in what was known as “the hole.” One day while in “the hole” a remarkable thing happened. He was lying on the cold cement doing sit-ups when he noticed that something was wedged into the back corner of the cell, under the sleeping platform. He had no idea how it got there but figured a former resident of “the hole” must have left it. He wiggled it out. It was, of all things, a copy of the New Testament. Now the thing that is so remarkable is that the inmate actually began to read from it. The inmate had always been a dynamo of power and energy.

Suddenly, he began to wonder what would have happened to him had he used his power and energy for good rather than evil. The thought completely boggled his mind. For a long time he lay there thinking: “Why did God create me? Why did God create someone who would end up behind bars? Why did God create someone who would die to goodness and love and be buried in a tomb of evil and hate in a prison cell?” What happened next is hard to describe.

A surprising thought entered the inmate’s mind. The greatest event in history began in a tomb- a tomb just as secure and guarded as his cell. That event, of course was the resurrection of Jesus. A second thought jolted him. What happened to Jesus could happen to him too, in “the hole.” Because of Jesus’ new life and glory, he too could be reborn. He too could be re-created. In a sense he too could rise from the dead. At that moment something roused deep inside him; he felt it stirring. He asked Jesus to come to him and raise him to a new life, to re-create a hardened criminal into a new person. And what happened to Jesus in the tomb happened to the prisoner in his tomb, “the hole.” The resurrection power of God brought him new life.

That man was Starr Dailey, who after being released from prison became one of the pioneers of prison reform in the United States. (Mark Link).

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