THE 33rd SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida
WHAT SEASON IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SEASON IN YOUR LIFE ???
Many people unconsciously live their lives centered on some cyclical season.
Everyone lives their life in accord with the seasons of climate change that come every year: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.
They do this unconsciously since these occur as part of nature over which we have no control.
Some live their lives centered on social events, social seasons.
The school year dominates the lives of families with children.
The growing season dominates the lives of families who earn their living from agriculture.
For some people sports‘ seasons dominate their lives. In much of the world the competition leading to the World Cup of soccer dominates the thinking and free time of millions of people.
In the United States, for some, it is the basketball season culminating in the annual playoffs. For others it is the baseball season leading up to the World Series and for many it is the football season that is so important in their life.
Nothing wrong with any of that – unless it assumes too great an importance and
comes to dominate one’s life becoming almost an obsession, bringing about a reordering of one’s priorities.
We all know Catholics who are nominal Catholics. Their lives are dominated by something other than the practice of their faith in their daily lives. The political season just ended coined a name for them: CINOs! Catholics-in-Name-Only.
We see them in church on Ash Wednesday and on Easter Sunday, but we seldom see them in church on most Sundays.
A Catholic who really tries to follow Christ in obedience to the plan he laid out for us in the Gospels lives his or her life in sync with the seasons of the Liturgical year: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and the time after Pentecost which marks the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church
Today we celebrate the 33rd Sunday of the Year. Next Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King marking the end of the Liturgical Year. And the following Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent marking the beginning of a new Liturgical Year.
Advent is a season of spiritual preparation for participating in the celebration of the most important event in human history: the incarnation and birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The world, even the non-Christian world, is forced by the importance of that event to mark time as either “of the Christian era” or “of the before Christ era.”
The seasons of the Liturgical Year should be, consciously and unconsciously, the most important seasons of of lives. Why? Because, in the words of the Second Vatican Council:
“The liturgy, ‘through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,’ most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.”
How does the Liturgy accomplish this?
It is accomplished, as the Council said, primarily through our participation in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, but it is accomplished through the word of God given to us in the readings from Sacred Scripture.
Up until the Council those readings were given in to us by the Church in just 52 groups of readings spread out over the 52 Sundays of the year. The Council increased the number of groups of reading by 104 more groups and now we have a total of 156 different groups of readings of Sacred Scripture spread out over a three-year cycle.
The readings for this Sunday are a good example of how Scripture readings reveal the nature of the season.
We are celebrating the end of the Liturgical Year and so in the readings for today’s Mass we learn from the prophecy of the Prophet Malachi that there will be the Second Coming of the Lord and His coming will not be a pleasant event for the “proud and all evildoers.” But that the Son/Sun of justice will shed healing rays on the just.
In the second reading Saint Paul urges us not to be free-loaders on society but to make our contribution to the well-being of everyone by being productive of social harmony and charitable works.
And in the Gospel of today’s Mass Saint Luke tells us about two separate events but links them: first, in the past, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem which took place some 30 years earlier when the Romans put down the Jewish revolt and then, in the future, the terror and chaos that will accompany the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
All three readings serve to remind us that just as the Liturgical Year has an end so will our lives and the life of the world have an end.
That is surely a sobering message for us as we get ready to celebrate the Feast of Jesus Christ the King next Sunday and then the First Sunday of Advent the following Sunday.
I urge you to
make every effort to be a ‘Liturgically seasonal Catholic’ by living the way Our Lord has called us to live through his Gospel and through His Church throughout each of the great Liturgical seasons of the Liturgical Year.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen !