Our current liturgical year is coming to a close. For that reason, the liturgy speaks about the end, following the prophecy of Daniel that at time of the resurrection and the joy of eternal life, Michael, the great prince, and guardian of God’s people, shall arise. It shall be a great time unsurpassed in distress in which God’s people and everyone who is found written in the book shall escape. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake either to everlasting life, or to everlasting horror and disgrace. It will be a day in which the wise shall shine brightly. Those who lead the many to justice shall be like stars forever
In the prophet’s message, we can see that no tear, no pain, no sacrifice is neither lost nor be in vain.
Our faithfulness will hasten the rise of the new world order, in which we shall partake of the joy of God’s kingdom. The end of this life will not be annihilation, but a transition to the fullness of life in the heavenly Kingdom with God, in the company of all his people.
Jesus will speak about this transitus when he tells us about the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies in order to produce a rich harvest (John 12:24). He applied this to his earthly mission, and his dying, in order to give life to all people and to bring about the salvation of the world, through his death. It is this that will lead to his resurrection and his sending of the Holy Spirit. The true disciple of Jesus Christ must experience that same death to selfishness in his own life. In this way, he or she must follow where Jesus has led.
For the benefit of his disciples, Jesus today clarifies the events of the end, when he tells us that during that period after trials of every sort, the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars will malfunction.
Then people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. He will dispatch his messengers and assemble his chosen from the four winds, from the farthest bounds of the earth and sky.
As we can discern agricultural occurrences and seasons, in the same way, we should learn from the signs and occurrences that the Son of Man is near, even at the door. In all of these, no one knows the exact day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor even the Son, but only the Father (Mark 13:24-32).
In the gospel we have listened to, Jesus speaks about his second coming, the Parousia. Even the disciples will experience sufferings similar to those of their Master. At this time, we live in the center of time, between the first coming of Jesus and his second coming in the end. But the only way out for us, will be to live the life, which the Master enjoined on us in his first coming in the incarnation. It will be only through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we shall pass the test of time. We must love, act and relate like Christ. We must observe and imitate Jesus in the way and manner he faced his passion and death, in order to be one with him in his resurrection.
Like the cross as in the case of Jesus, there will be terrible events in the lives of the disciples. It will be in fact, the harvest time, in which the seed will be coming to fruition, for the disciples to be gathered into the Kingdom of God for eternal life. The fate of the disciples will be in harmony with that of Jesus Christ.
If only the disciples live through their present trials with God’s grace in perseverance, they too will be saved in heaven.
All of these will be possible if only we welcome Jesus Christ as our eternal high priest, who offered one sacrifice for sins and took his seat forever at the right hand of God. By that one offering, he has forever perfected us all who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:11-14, 18).
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD