Liturgical Year B

33rd Week in Ordinary Time; These are the days of Elijah

We are at the very end of another liturgical year so this Sunday we are facing quite strange readings once again, at least for our modern generation. Generally speaking, there are two very opposite approaches to this kind of readings. The first uses the eschatology (that’s like theologians call all this) to frighten us with hell and purgatory or to remind us how all issues of global warming, diseases like AIDS or cancer are just the last warning to our sinful world before the definite ending. On the other hand, the second approach attempts to deny all this (openly or not) trying to show us how Jesus “didn’t really mean it”, how people (for instance, today these people can be Protestant preachers) exaggerate about these things, etc. I don’t want to follow any of the two approaches – as always I just want to follow the Gospel and share with you some remarks, feelings and impressions.

So let us start with one phrase which really touches me in today’s Gospel. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven. Of course, ordinary people like you and me don’t have any clue how it will actually be but we can try to imagine the final coming of our Lord. Just try. It’s not so easy, isn’t it? How do you feel about it? Any fear? If you are afraid I used to be just like you before I’ve heard a song which has completely changed my way of looking at this very important part of the Old and New Testament.

It’s about a worship song called Days of Elijah (for my Croatian readers there is a local version called On dolazi). Here are some of the lyrics:

These are the days of Elijah
Declaring the Word of the Lord
And these are the days of Your servant, Moses
Righteousness being restored
And though these are days of great trial
Of famine and darkness and sword
Still, we are the voice in the desert crying

‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’
Behold he comes
Riding on a cloud
Shining like the sun
At the trumpet’s call
Lift your voice
It’s the year of jubilee
Out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.

Here I quote only the first verse, but I recommend you look it up at YouTube, for instance, the performance of Judy Jacobs. Every since I’ve heard this song for the first time it always provokes a great joy deep inside me. For long time I just enjoyed it like any other song I like, but after a while I asked myself why I like so much. The answer is simple: it is all about desire. Desire is very important thing in human life. In fact, our deepest desire guides us in our life and brings us the joy and the hope. Can you answer for yourself, what is your deepest desire? Is just about sex and money? I’m sure you can do better. Anyhow, I have come to realise that my desire to be closer to Jesus in this life and in the future, of course, is growing deeper. I passed 40 and I know some time soon I’ll be 50, just like two more days more and the time of my passover (with some luck) will come. I don’t know about this moment in the future, but at least I feel so ready to meet this Guy who comes on the clouds.

Although, I really feel like quite a big sinner, I’m not afraid. Do you know why? Because it is He, the Guy on the clouds, who is my judge. In my favourite book The Jesuit Guide to (almost) everything my American fellow Jesuit James Martin, speaking how people still envision Ignatius, our founder, as a stern father, writes: An elderly Jesuit once said to me about the prospect of heaven: ”I have no problem with Jesus judging me. It’s Ignatius who worries me!”

So don’t worry; it’s your mother or your father, your friends, children, neighbours, your parish priest or ascetic lady from the first row in your church who will judge you. It will be this Guy, Jesus, full of compassion and love, who will help you too ride on the clouds...

Dublin, 2012.

19.11.2012.Author: p. Antun Volenik, SJ
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