Catholic homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: “HOPE RISES LIKE A PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES OF SHATTERED DREAMS”
By: Rev. Fr. Justin Chima Obijuru
Homily for Sunday November 14 2021
R.1: Daniel 12: 1-3
R.2: Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18
Gospel: Mark 13: 24-32
The phoenix bird is a mythical bird from Greek mythology. It was a feathered creature of great size with talons and wings, its plumage radiant and beautiful. The phoenix lived for 500 years before it built its own funeral pyre, burst into flame, and died, consumed in its own fiery inferno. Soon after, the mythical creature rose out of the ashes, in a transformation from death to life.
Sometimes the worst thing that happens to you, the thing you think you can’t survive… it’s the thing that makes you better than you used to be.
Lately, the focus of the readings are beginning to change to themes of “end time” and “tribulation”. Someone would say that a telltale sign of Wisdom is our readiness for the end of the world, i.e., Jesus’ final coming, and Judgment Day. Again, parables, such as the Wise Virgins, the shrewd steward, are stories of being always ready for the Bridegroom’s return.
The end of the world is likened to the time of Noah insofar as most people will be oblivious to their imminent destruction. Today, in the first reading, it is likened to a time of trouble, such as never has been seen before. We must always be ready to show forth hope at every devastating experience of ours.
I’ve died a thousand deaths, each time reinventing myself brighter, stronger, and purer than before. From the midst of destruction, I became the creator of myself. From the midst of darkness, I became my own source of light.
The first reading, Daniel 12: 1-3, gives us a hope of resurrection. We detect here a glimmering of hope, that, instead of the gloomy prospect of shadowy existence in the Pit, men will truly survive the trauma of death. Life beyond the grave is seen in terms of resurrection. Many, says Daniel, will be awakened from their “sleep” in Sheol and rise to share “everlasting life” in that Kingdom which is itself eternal (Dan 12: 2).
The Second reading (Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18) shades this light of Hope deeply. For Christ to offer for all time a single sacrifice for sins, while the other priests stood daily at their service offering repeatedly the same sacrifice, means that Christ’s Sacrifice carries that Hope which we seek. His sacrifice, offered once and for all, is the genuine sacrifice which the Father wanted. His sacrifice is the only Original one; while the others were the not genuine. Christ has given us a success story, an everlasting life.
The Gospel, Mark 13: 24-32, is reminiscent of the End of Time. Jesus said to His disciples that, “in those days, after that great tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Mark 13: 24-25). When all these things begin to happen, know that Christ is near. “Learn a lesson from the fig tree”.
The explanation to these readings is that God’s Kingdom is assured, but it is to be born out of great tribulation. Evil is the enemy of good and will do its utmost to destroy it – not only at the time of consummation, but also, at every point in time, wherever the powers of the Kingdom asserts themselves.
The pattern of God’s Kingdom, like the pattern of our Redemption, is that of life through death, triumph through tribulation. We experience all this day by day. The lesson we ought to learn from Jesus is that strength comes through weakness, victory comes through defeat, resurrection comes through crucifixion.
Suffering can lead to transformation and redemption. What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. Here in this suffering, all previous beliefs are called into question. They are consumed in the fire sparked and fueled by our own illusion. The pain becomes the ashes we are now buried in. It is only when we find ourselves at this most imprisonment of junctures that we emerge again.
May God bless His Words in our hearts through Christ. Amen.