Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Homily - Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost - November 23, 2014

Col. 1:9-14; Matt. 24:15-35

Today is the thirty-fourth and last Sunday after Pentecost.  Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the new liturgical year and the preparation for the celebration of our Lord’s birth.  And so, naturally, the readings call our attention to the end of time.  I would like to preface my comments by pointing out a pattern in the Gospels, which you may already recognize.  The Lord calls His disciples to a very high standard of behavior.  He says love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemies.  But as high as the standard is for our actions, so profound is His mercy when we fail.  He says, go and sin no more, your faith has saved you.

Something like that happens in our readings today.  The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was a dramatic event, and some aspects of it are incorporated in today’s Gospel.  It reminded the people in our Lord’s day that this world is passing, and we live under the prospect of final judgment.  It still happens today, as events in our world and in our lives remind us of the passing quality of this life and turn our sights to God.  As the Gospel says, the Lord will come in judgment at the end of time, but it will be a judgment of the world, His vindication.  And for us who seek to live out our faith, it will be our vindication, as well.

The Lord gives us every means for our salvation.  He gives us the gift of time, to grow in faith, to see things differently, to be sorry for our sins.  Some people get upset when they realize their sins, but what a grace that we begin to see things as the God sees them.  He gives us the Church, with all the means of salvation:  the sacraments, the Word of God, the petrine charism of teaching, the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints.  We should turn to these often.  The early Church father, Origen, says our lives must have an interior paradise where God may walk and be our sole ruler, with Christ at His right hand, to overcome every sin.  We have heard that the kingdom of God is within us, or, at least it starts there.  We must be convinced to begin over again whenever we fail, trusting in the mercy of God, Who Himself does His work in us, the work of His kingdom.

There is a great consolation in today’s Gospel in the Lord Who comes to us as the Son of Man.  There is a reference to the Old Testament book of Daniel.  In an episode of Daniel, he has a dream of the kingdoms which surround Israel and are hostile to her.  They appear as devouring beasts, menacing, frightful and horrific.  But then the Messiah appears, as the Son of Man, in human form, approachable, accessible, One like us.  This is how God comes to us, as One like us.  And then He says, kingdoms will rise, but the kingship belongs to God’s people.  That is how He comes at to us, and how He comes to us at the end of time, One like us, in vindication of people of faith, and to establish His kingdom among us.

As a sign of the end times, the Lord gives us the fig tree.  When I was growing up, we had a fig tree in our back yard.  If you have ever seen a fig tree, you know that nothing looks more dead than a fig tree in winter.  Its branches are completely barren, spiny, and brittle.  But then, as Spring draws near, the sap begins to run through those branches, and you know that something is happening.  First the leaf, then the bud, then the fruit.  We live in the end times, that is, our Lord has come once in time, and we expect no further revelation from God, as we await His coming at the end of time.  In a world, dead to sin, He has come, the Church has appeared, and here we are, like those throughout the world who gather today as we do, on the Lord’s Day, the day of resurrection, to offer the Sacrifice of Christ in the Mass, to render God worship, to receive Him in the Eucharist, as the Church has done for years, for decades, and for centuries.  What a phenomenon.  Something is happening.  New life, new vigor, new sap is running through the branches and veins of this world, dead to sin, the stirrings of the kingdom of God.  First the leaf, then the bud, then the fruit.  The Lord will come to fulfill what He has begun in and around us and to establish His kingdom.