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33rd Sunday B


We keep wondering why all these calamities are happening to us at this time. Because of the trauma of super-typhoons and massive floods, the predicted volcanic activity and fear of tsunamis, we are reduced to fear and submission to future events. But we are not only pondering on the physical forces behind them. We also surmise whether these events are messages from God.

I was getting a haircut and my barber told me that he was a former Seventh-day Adventist and was taught that these occurrences are portents of a serious cataclysm – the end of the world. He mentioned his fear that the end is near. I believed later how fearful he was, for at home, I saw in the mirror that his trembling hands made my right sideburn longer than the left!

Jesus said He is coming again. This we believe in faith. The Bible describes how this will transpire – in very vivid, foreboding tones. But this coming of the Lord – is it meant to drive us nuts, to render us sleepless, to make us tremble? Even now, people are already sending emails and text messages that inquire whether it is true that the world will end on December 12, 2012!

Towards the end of the liturgical year, we always encounter the “apocalyptic literature” of the church. These are readings that explain future things in terms of universal upheavals – wars, natural disasters, fearful celestial signs. And many speculators arise interpreting them as fearful omens of biblical prophecies.

How do we interpret these? In today’s gospel the Lord Jesus clearly tells us that upon His return in majesty and power, nature itself will acknowledge His authority. The whole world will feel his coming. And the heavens will manifest its support by the activities of angels. But notice that Jesus does not speak of punishment, arrests, sentencing to hell! He speaks of “gathering” the elect. He will come to “gather” His people, the people He loves.

We are afraid because we forget that the One who will come is the One who loves us more than any other person has ever done in history. He is not destroyer, but Redeemer. He is not punisher, but Forgiver of sins. He is not the enemy of our existence. Jesus is the Great Lover. Don’t lovers return again and again to manifest their love? Isn’t that what lovers do? Isn’t that what true friends do? They return to show us that we are not forgotten. They return to build us up and make us strong. How much more with Jesus, burning with love for all!

That is the first thing we must realize when we read the Word of God. It is not a prophecy for doom. It is an encouragement to prepare for the One who loves us most. When we recall Jesus’ return every year, remember that He is inviting each of us to prepare our hearts. For when our Lover returns, should we not also be excited to be found the best for Him?

As to the exact date or the exact signs, Jesus assures us that neither the angels in heaven know. To speculate is to waste our time and energy. God’s calendar and His timetable are different from ours. Even these operate through love. Jesus is coming. Be prepared. But do not be afraid.