Reflection on the Lectionary Readings for
November 18, 2018
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
We are approaching the start of the holiday season. Thanksgiving is less than a week away and if the advertisers are to be believed, the Christmas shopping season is already in full-swing. Today’s readings stand in stark contrast to all this worldly merry-making, warning us of dark times ahead and our inevitable judgment day. How should a modern-day disciple and steward respond to these seeming contradictions? Keep this question in mind as we take a look at the Word of God presented to us this week.
The First Reading, from Daniel, describes a time “unsurpassed in distress since nations began” and warns that “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, and others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.”
The Second Reading, from Hebrews, speaks of Christ who “waits until his enemies are made his footstool.”
Even the Gospel Acclamation is ominous: “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.”
In the Gospel passage, from Mark, Jesus describes a time of tribulation after which “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”
Sobering messages indeed. It’s enough to make you lose your appetite for that second piece of pumpkin pie. But for a committed disciple of Christ, these messages are simply a healthy (and vivid!) reminder of why our first priority is God Himself.
For when we have firmly established for ourselves as individuals, as a family and as a parish that we will give to God the first and best portion of our Time, Talent, and Treasure, the warnings we read in the Scriptures today need not cause us alarm. In fact, we can receive them as an encouragement — to “Keep Calm and Steward On,” no matter what comes our way.
One of the blessings of a stewardship way of life is this: In challenging times, whether in our homes or workplaces, or even our beloved Church itself, we can take great comfort in knowing we have a concrete plan to keep our priorities in right order. And when we put God first in all aspects of our lives, we will experience the peace that He gives that surpasses all understanding.