33rd Sunday of Year B
NOVEMBER 14, 2021 – Angelus
The Gospel passage of today’s liturgy opens with a phrase of Jesus that leaves us astonished: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven” (Mk 13:24-25). But what now, even the Lord was a doomsdayer? No, this is certainly not His intention. He wants us to understand that sooner or later everything in this world passes. Even the sun, the moon and the stars that make up the “firmament” – a word that indicates “firmness”, “stability” – are destined to pass away.
In the end, though, Jesus says what does not fall: “Heaven and earth will pass away”, He says, “but my words will not pass away” (v. 31). The Lord’s words will not pass away. He makes a distinction between the penultimate things, which pass, and the ultimate things, that remain. It is a message for us, to guide us in our important decisions in life, to guide us on what it is worth investing our life. In something transitory, or in the words of the Lord that remain forever? Obviously on these. But it is not easy. Indeed, the things that come before our senses and give us immediate satisfaction attract us, while the words of the Lord, although beautiful, go beyond the immediate and require patience. We are tempted to cling to what we see and touch and what seems safer to us. It is human, that is temptation. But this is a deception, because “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”. So, here is the invitation: do not build your life on sand. When someone builds a house, they dig deep and lay a solid foundation. Only a fool would say that money would be wasted on something that cannot be seen. According to Jesus, the faithful disciple is the one who founds his life on the rock, which is his Word (cf. Mt 7:24-27), which does not pass away, on the firmness of the Word of Jesus: this is the foundation of the life that Jesus wants from us, and which will not pass away.
And now we wonder – always, when we read the Word of God, questions arise – what is the centre, what is the beating heart of the Word of God? In short, what is it that gives solidity to life, and will never end? Saint Paul tells us. The very centre, the beating heart, that which gives solidity, is love: “Love never ends” (1 Cor 13:8), says Saint Paul: love. Those who do good, are investing in eternity. When we see a person who is generous and helpful, meek, patient, who is not envious, does not gossip, does not brag, is not puffed-up with pride, does not lack respect (cf. 1 Cor 13:4-7), this is a person who builds Heaven on earth. They may not be noticed or have a career, they will not make the news, and yet, what they do will not be lost because good is never lost, good lasts forever.
And we, brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves: what are we investing our lives in? On things that pass, such as money, success, appearance, physical well-being? We will take away none of these things. Are we attached to earthly things, as if we will live here forever? When we are young and healthy, everything is fine, but when the time comes to depart, we have to leave everything behind.
The Word of God warns us today: this world will pass away. And only love will remain. To base one’s life on the Word of God, therefore, is not an escape from history, but an immersion into earthly realities in order to make them solid, to transform them with love, imprinting on them the sign of eternity, the sign of God. Here then is some advice for making important choices. When I don’t know what to do, how do make a definitive choice, an important decision, a decision that involves Jesus’ love, what must I do? Before deciding, let us imagine that we are standing in front of Jesus, as at the end of life, before Him who is love. And imagining ourselves there, in His presence, at the threshold of eternity, we make the decision for today. We must decide in this way: always looking to eternity, looking at Jesus. It may not be the easiest, it may not be the most immediate, but it will be the right one (cf. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 187), that is sure.
NOVEMBER 18, 2018 – Angelus
In this Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Mk 13:24-32), the Lord seeks to instruct his disciples on future events. Firstly, it is not a discourse on the end of the world, but rather an invitation to live the present well, to be vigilant and ever ready for when we will be called to account for our life. Jesus says: “in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven (vv. 24-25). These words make us envision the first page of the Book of Genesis, the narrative of creation: the sun, the moon, the stars — which from the beginning of time shine in their order and bring light, a sign of life — are described here in their decline, as they fall into darkness and chaos, a sign of the end. Instead, the light that shines on that final day will be unique and new: it will be that of the Lord Jesus who will come in glory with all the saints. In that encounter we will at last see his Face in the full light of the Trinity: a Face radiant with love, before which every human being will also appear in absolute truth.
Human history, like the personal history of each of us, cannot be understood as a simple succession of meaningless words and facts. Nor can it be interpreted in the light of a fatalistic vision, as if all were already preordained according to a fate that removes any space for freedom, preventing us from making choices as the fruit of true decision. In today’s Gospel passage, however, Jesus says that the history of peoples and that of individuals have a purpose and an aim to fulfil: the definitive encounter with the Lord. We know neither the time nor the way in which it will come about: the Lord emphasized that “no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son” (v. 32); all is safeguarded in the secret of the mystery of the Father. We know, however, a basic principle with which we must confront ourselves: “Heaven and earth will pass away”, Jesus says, “but my words will not pass away” (v. 31). This is the true crux. On that day, each of us will have to understand whether the Word of the Son of God has illuminated our personal existence, or whether we turned our back to it, preferring to trust in our own words. More than ever, it will be the moment in which to abandon ourselves definitively to the Father’s love and to entrust ourselves to his mercy.
No one can escape this moment, none of us! Shrewdness, which we often instil in our conduct in order to validate the image we wish to offer, will no longer be useful; likewise, the power of money and of economic means with which we pretentiously presume to buy everything and everyone, will no longer be of use. We will have with us nothing more than what we have accomplished in this life by believing in his Word: the all and nothing of what we have lived or neglected to fulfil. We will take with us only what we have given.
Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary that, with the verification of our impermanence on earth and of our limitations, she not allow us to collapse into anguish, but call us back to responsibility for ourselves, for our neighbour, for the entire world.
SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website
NOVEMBER 15, 2015 – ANGELUS
The Gospel of this penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year offers us part of Jesus’ discourse regarding the last events of human history, oriented toward the complete fulfillment of the reign of God (cf. Mk 13:24-32). It is the talk that Jesus gave in Jerusalem before his last Passover. It has certain apocalyptic elements, such as wars, famine, cosmic catastrophes: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (vv. 24-25). However, these segments are not the essential part of the message. The core around which Jesus’ words turn is he himself, the mystery of his person, and of his death and resurrection, and his return at the end of time.
Our final goal is the encounter with the Risen Lord. I would like to ask how many of you think about this. “There will be a day in which I meet the Lord face to face”. And this is our goal: the encounter. We do not await a time or a place, but we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Thus the problem is not “when” these premonitory signs of the last days will occur, but rather our being prepared. Neither is it about knowing “how” these things will happen, but instead “how” we have to act today, in awaiting these things. We are called to live the present, building our future with serenity and trust in God. The parable of the fig tree that sprouts, as a sign of the approaching summer (cf. vv. 28-29), teaches that the perspective of the end doesn’t distract us from the present life, but rather brings us to look at our current days with an outlook of hope. This virtue of hope that is so hard to live. The smallest but strongest of the virtues. And our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord, who comes “with great power and glory” (v. 26), which will manifest his love, crucified and transfigured in the Resurrection. The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the Cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself for love of neighbour, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals and tragedies of the world.
The Lord Jesus is not only the destination of our earthly pilgrimage, but also a constant presence in our lives; he is also beside us, he always accompanies. That’s why, when we speak of the future and project ourselves toward it, it is always in order to lead us back to the present. He counters the false prophets, the fortune-tellers who predict that the end of the world is near; he sets himself against fatalism. He is at our side; he walks with us; he loves us. He wants to remove from his disciples of every age the curiosity about dates, predictions, horoscopes, and focus their attention on the today of history. I would like to ask you — don’t answer out loud, each one answer to himself — how many of you read your horoscope every day? Each one answer, and when you feel like reading your horoscope, look to Jesus who is with you. This is better and will be better for you. This presence of Jesus calls us to the anticipation and vigilance that exclude both impatience and lethargy, both the escaping to the future and the becoming prisoners of the current moment and of worldliness.
In our days, too, there is no lack of natural and moral disasters, nor of adversities and difficulties of every kind. Everything passes, the Lord reminds us; he alone, his Word remains as the light that guides and encourages our steps. He always forgives us because he is at our side. We need only look at him and he changes our hearts. May the Virgin Mary help us to trust in Jesus, the firm foundation of our life, and to persevere with joy in his love.
SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website
SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website