Sunday November 14, 2021 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
The tie in between today’s readings: Know what’s coming.
When I was a kid growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, my parents would take us on weekend trips to Wildwood, New Jersey. On the way, there were road signs to Zaberer’s restaurant “…Just Minutes Away!” it would say. In our own version of, Are We There, Yet, we would try to guess how long it would take to get to Zaberer’s. Winner got first choice on Boardwalk activities that night. We were often wrong. In our gospel today, the Mark 13 fig tree allegory gives us a road sign pointing to Jesus’ second coming. Many Biblical scholars correlate the fig tree to Israel. They site Hosea 9:10 and other verses as proof. They believe that the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 connects with the fig tree putting out its leaves…and ushering in the last generation. Now, I don’t know what your thinking is on end of the world prognostications. Personally, I think that it’s a no win situation. In the most likely case, being wrong just makes you look stupid. When someone finally does get it right: who cares? The world is over. It’s time to move on, unless you’re going for heavenly bragging rights, like the kid in the “guess the number of jelly beans in the jar” contest. These road signs do have a purpose, however. They heighten your focus on what’s coming in order for you to put your life in order. Seriously, no matter when Jesus returns the most important thing to realize is that when a person dies, it’s the end of the world for them! God has a job for His people to do while there’s still time.
We, the Church, should be living with eternity in mind. The unbelieving world will be surprised when Jesus returns like a thief in the night, because they have “bartered for another God” as it says in Psalm 16. Their focus is trained on this earth…the one that is passing away. We have an urgent gospel message to relay. It’s contained in our reading in Hebrews today: Jesus’ one time sacrifice for sin avails forgiveness for the world. He is now seated at the right hand of God, interceding for those people who come to Him for salvation. We are the ambassadors of Christ imploring everyone to be reconciled to God through Jesus. Those who respond will receive everlasting life in heaven. Those who refuse will face the “Great White Throne Judgment” for their sins and there will be no mercy, no grace, and no hope.
What will Jesus’ second coming look like? Pandemonium! The sky will fall! The earth will shake! People will futilely cry for the mountains to bury them so that they might be hidden from the all-seeing eye of God. The angels, like the wind, will separate saint from sinner. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 14:11). The books will be opened, and destinies decided, as it says in our reading in Daniel today. Some will go to everlasting darkness and shame. Those that are in Christ, the children of God, however, will shine like the stars forever in heaven.
Examine yourself. Where are you now and where do you want to be? The Bible illustrates the consequences of your decision. Are you building your life high and dry on Jesus the Rock or is your real estate down below on the sandy bank? When the levee breaks, mamma it’s too late to move! Have you put your trust in the God of Jacob’s ladder or are you buying a stairway to heaven with your good works? Are you on the broad easy road of the world that goes to destruction, or have you picked the narrow path leading to life? The insidious lie is that in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on. God says, “Today is the day of salvation.” Put your trust in the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God to take away your sin. Don’t wait! The fig tree is in leaf and the horizon is fast approaching. Whether the second coming is today or whether in death it becomes the end of the world for you. Your face to face with the living God could be…just minutes away!