THIRTY THIRD SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
The Sunday Scriptures
Sitting on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, opposite the Temple, Jesus uses traditional apocalyptic language to describe the end of time and the Parusia, the Second Coming, known only to the Father (Mark 13:24-32). In this he is continuing the strain of thought which began to flourish during the persecution of the Maccabees in the mid second century B.C. and reached its climax in the Book of the Apocalypse. The purpose of the apocalyptic – presented in coded language and visions understood by the initiated – is to give courage to those undergoing persecution by reassuring them that the present persecutions (be it by the Greeks or Romans of the era in question) will lead to God’s vindication when the evil are punished and the good rewarded. In the Book of Daniel, after a series of stories in the third person about Daniel and his companions (1:1-6:28), there follows the apocalyptic visions of Daniel in the first person (7:1-12:13). All is set in the sixth century B.C., but in reality composed in the second century B.C. The vision of Michael protecting God’s people is the earliest clear witness to the belief in resurrection in the Old Testament (Daniel 12:1-3). Unlike the Aaronic priests, Christ’s sacrifice perfects all (Hebrews 10:11-14.18).
Gaudium et Spes Part I: Chapter 3 Human Activity in the Universe (33-39) 
Chapter 3, Part I, focuses on the value of human activity, particularly in science and technology, but poses the question of the ‘meaning and value of this feverish activity’. It praises the rightful autonomy of earthly affairs and methodological research, provided that it ‘is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws’ (36), but strongly states that not to hold that all depends on God is a falsity. ‘Once God is forgotten, the creature is lost sight of as well.’ (36) The final paragraph of this chapter is entitled ‘Human activity: its fulfilment in the Paschal Mystery’. The Church has to be involved in ‘earthly progress’ and ‘the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on’. The Christian cannot disengage from this world. However, we know that this world will not last. ‘We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of human beings, nor the way in which the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away.’ (39)
The apocalyptic parts of the Scriptures remind us that looking forward to the Parusia, the Second Coming, is part of the life of faith for the disciple. The Lord will come again. Gaudium et Spes further reminds us that this element of looking forward to the consummation, rather than disengaging from the world in a form of quietism, is precisely a spur to involve ourselves fully in its progress.
Points for reflection
- How do we deepen our faith that the Lord will come again?
- Discuss the sentence ‘Once God is forgotten, the creature is lost sight of as well.’
- How do we more actively involve ourselves in ‘earthy progress’?
Canon Mervyn Tower