Reflections on the Readings
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - November 6, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins
Will You Be Ready?
Jesus said, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."
Through the years, I've heard my share of scary sermons about the end. I hope my title for today's reflections doesn't frighten you. It's not my intention to scare you.
In fact, I believe that if you will read to the end of these thoughts and reflections that you will be blessed. I invite you to begin first with the Readings For This Sunday
After all these years I still cringe when I recall the 'Jesus is coming soon' revival sermons I heard growing up. I suspect some of them could've been rated 'R.' There still exists in some church traditions a predictive tone to 'end time' speculative preaching. Prophetic speculators link the daily headlines to apocalyptic scripture and folks begin to squirm in their seats. And to soothe their conscience they buy up the preacher's Prophetic Bible Charts and End Time writings creatively captured in book form.
There is no end to speculation and predictions and setting of dates for when Jesus will come again. Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted the world would end this past May 21, 2011. The 89 year old was absolutely certain of the date the world would end.
He didn't know.
He couldn't and we can't know that either. Jesus clearly states that you and I do not know the day nor the hour. But that is not so much a handicap as it is an opporunity. Jesus is stressing the need to be prepared - to be eternally vigilant - to always live prepared to meet him at a moments notice. This is the good news. Compared to the sermons I referenced above, this is very good news. I'd rather live preparing to meet my maker than to live afraid to face the sunshine of a new day. How about you?
The truth is Jesus does not want us to be afraid. He wants us as we heard in the second reading to console one another about his promised return. We are to speak words of hope, not despair. We are to speak to one another about our deep expectation that our Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. And both the living and the faithful departed will rise to be forever in the presence of him who loved us and gave himself for us.
The five wise maidens show us the blessings and joy of being ready to meet our Lord when he comes again. They brought extra oil for their lamps so that they could always be ready for the coming of the bridegroom. At any time throughout the night hours they were ready because of their foresight and preparation. Today's Psalm captures what it is we hope for. It is God, the living God for whom we wait. Our very bodies anticipate a change; our flesh pines for him; our soul thirsts for God. We lift our hands and call upon his name. We meditate upon these things; we muse upon his promise that he will come again and receive us unto himself so that where he is we may be also.
For two thousand years the blessed hope of the Church has been its belief that Christ will come again in the clouds of glory. Sanctified by her trials and temptations; beautified by her martyrs; adorned by her love for the poor and downtrodden, her faith has rested on his promise that he will come again. Crowned with the kindness of Jesus she has gone in Christ's name into all the world wiping the tears from every eye and comforting all who mourn. For two millennia she has healed the sick of soul and body and embraced the hurting with the tenderness of a mother. It is not some craftily devised fable that keeps the Church going. It is the promise of Jesus himself who said, "I will come again, and in my Father's house are many mansions!"
Time has not diminished the story of our bridegroom coming again nor has the calendar aged his bride the Church. Every Sunday, the day of the Lord, we gaze upon our Savior in the sanctuary. He comes to us in power and great glory again and again with all the angels and saints and we with them cry Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord. He gives us the great riches of his body and blood; the great banquet that fills us with every bodily and spiritual grace. This Holy Eucharist is the closest of moments we have with our Lord as we gather here this morning under the shadow of his wings and shout for joy.
Behold the bridegroom! Come and meet him!
And those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is: www.dennishankins.com