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33rd Sunday B

Are you already preparing for Christmas? Many Filipinos surely are! But some people are “prepping” for something else – the end of the world!  Whoever managed to direct our attention to December 21, 2012 (12-21-12) surely got the whole world on a year-long suspense mode.  There is much talk, speculation and discussion about the end of this world or of something else we have yet to know!
A new program on television shows people preparing for the “end” by stocking piles of food and supplies, burrowing tunnels, practicing shooting skills and defense tactics against human, natural or robotic intruders.  A woman stacked up spaghetti enough to feed two thousand people in case groceries run out!
The first reading from the Book of Daniel (Ch. 12) is a prophecy of the end.  In the midst of distress, the great archangel Michael will appear.  Some people will be ushered to life eternal while others consigned to horror unending.  The Gospel of Mark (Ch. 13) recalls Jesus’ saying that the sun and moon will lose their brilliance and stars and heavenly powers will be in disarray. Enough basis for talks about a total black-out!
How do you feel about all these predictions?  I know some people remain calm while others become anxious and tremble.  Still, so many of us don’t give a single thought to what will happen when the end comes, too busy on other things. Still the readings today remain relevant, not to shock us but to rouse us to consider that everything has a finality.  God’s Word is true; it will happen one day.
But popular imagination revolves around frightening scenarios of doomsday events.  Remember though that what the Scriptures give are figures and symbols.  Not all are literal material to be taken exactly.  The Lord Jesus spoke many times in veiled language in parables, and like Daniel, in apocalyptic terms.
If we examine the gospel today, we will discover that the decisive event is not the heavenly spectacle or earthly disruption.  At the center of the “end” is the coming of the Lord.  “The Son of Man will come in the clouds, with great power and glory, accompanied by His angels.”  It is not doomsday that will come.  It is the Lord who will return to His people with gifts of love and salvation.
The preparation is not about where to find safety and lasting supply.  The preparation is how to welcome Him when he comes.  At Mass, we used to say: “Christ has died. Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.” And He does come again.  The “end” comes in various ways to different people each day.  How aware and prepared are we to welcome the coming of the Lord in our day-to-day lives?
My friend just discovered that his liver cancer might have spread to his lungs.  But in his text he assured me:  I live normally each day as if nothing is wrong.  Why can he say that?  Because he is at peace with God and other people. He is prepared every day! This is a man who waits for Jesus and not for disaster. 
In this Year of Faith, let us focus on Jesus and plan the welcome we will give Him!