33RD SUNDAY B 2012
A passenger in a taxi leaned over to ask the driver a question and tapped him on the shoulder.
The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove over the curb, and, stopped just inches from a large plate glass window.
For a few moments everything was silent in the cab, and then the still shaking driver said, “1'm sorry, but you scared the daylights out of me."
The frightened passenger apologised to the driver and said he didn't realise a mere tap on the shoulder could frighten him so much.
The driver replied, "No, no I'm sorry, it's entirely my fault. Today is my first day driving a cab... I've been driving a hearse for the last 25 years."
Apocalyptic writings are thought to be a distinctive branch of literature. Some think that this kind of writing took place in times of persecution, when straightforward writing would be penalized. The First Reading, from the Book of Daniel, and the Gospel passage from Mark for this week are two of the most important examples of apocalyptical writings in the bible.
In the apocalyptic literature, such as the book of Daniel, we read of the sun and moon darkening, stars falling out of the sky, and the very “powers in the heavens” shaken at their core. This story in the Bible reads like a science-fiction thriller or horror drama. There were women and men who were under immense stress and oppression and who worried for their safety and the safety of their children. They needed to know that no matter what, even if the sun should cease to give light, God would continue to be with them.
St. Thomas More was imprisoned and then beheaded by King Henry VIII. We have a letter that he wrote to his daughter Meg:
“I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning… Finally Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault he will not let me be lost. I shall, therefore with good hope commit myself wholly to him.
And therefore my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.”
The emphasis is trust in the Lord. Those who live His life to the best of their ability have nothing to fear. The basic message is, “Do not be afraid. Trust in God. He will care for you.” We need to do our best to get out of the fear mind set and live as people of the faith we profess. God is infinitely stronger than all the forces of the world. And He loves each of us. He loves us as a people. He loves us more than we can fathom.
If we do everything we can to be open to His Presence, He will take care of us. St. Augustine put it this way, “If we do not resist the first coming of the Lord, then we will have no reason to dread His second coming.” By that he means if we live according to the way He told us to live when He came among us, then we have no reason to fear when He comes again at the end of the world.
Perhaps many of us are not inordinately concerned about the end of the world. But each of us does have certain areas of fear in our lives. Some are afraid due to their health or that of a loved one. Maybe we are going to die sooner than we expect. Everyone dies sooner than she or he expects.
Some are afraid that their lives are not going to turn out as they hope. No one knows how our lives will turn out. I never expected most of what has happened to me. I don’t know what is going to happen. We are making plans “Imagine Sacred Heart”. I certainly have fears that the plans we have may not succeed. Do we have a congregation able to invest the energy that will be needed to allow our parish to be more than a destination for liturgy? What will my energy level be in five years? I do know that my plans and God’s plans are often quite different. I am certain you can say the same thing. Where will each of us be 10 years from now?
We know there is going to be an end to our individual lives. Jesus is saying that we should live today as if we knew that today is the beginning of our final ending. Not in a morbid sense but rather that we are encouraged to watch, but live the sacredness of our lives every day.
Imagine that you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow. When a friar asked St. Francis what he would do in this situation, Francis, who was gardening at the time, said: “I would keep hoeing my garden.”
What about you? Would you keep going about your business? Most of us would make some last-minute changes. Would we desire to hear God’s assurance of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Recociliation; “Your sins are forgiven?” Would we want to be in communion with Christ? Would we treasure and opportunity to celebrate mass and receive the bread of life for our journey? I know I would. The phone lines would probably be jammed with people calling family and friends expressing love and gratitude and trying to make eleventh-hour reparations. What about our new freedom to share of what we have with others?
But this is all fanciful speculation. Jesus told us that no one knows when the end will come! So our best strategy is to live each day as if it were our last. We should try our best always to be at peace with the Lord and with the people around us. We should also make sure we are taking care of the needy in our midst.
Here's a proverb to motivate you.
"I sought my God; my God I could not see.
I sought my soul; my soul eluded me.
I sought my neighbor, and I found all three."