Final Sunday of the liturgical year

By | November 21, 2012

Today we close another liturgical cycle and focus on the end of time. For the past 12 months we’ve been instructed through the Gospel according to St. Mark. Mark’s writing style is brief and with little imagery, focusing on the sufferings of Christ. Following that pattern, on this final Sunday of the church year, Mark allows us to hear Jesus’ sense of his kingship on the eve of his Passion and death.

The first reading from the book of Daniel describes a vision of Christ coming on the clouds at the end of time being given kingship by his Father. That same image is echoed in the second reading from the Book of Revelation as Jesus comes amid the clouds, the Alpha and the Omega.

The context for that final victory is the cost of kingship, power and dominion. It was bought at the price of obedience, innocent suffering and tremendous love. In the Gospel, we hear Jesus’ answer to Pilate who questioned his identity. Jesus clearly claims that he is a king, but that his realm is not of this world. His purpose has been to testify to the truth, which he continues to do until the end. We know that the interview was followed by suffering and death, but ultimately with the resurrection and his reign as Lord and Messiah.

Next week we begin Advent, a new liturgical year, and a new cycle of readings; this time from the Gospel account of St. Luke. We don’t know much about Luke except that he was a gentile and “the beloved physician” that St. Paul describes. We don’t hear about his conversion but we know he joined St. Paul in Troas about the year 51 and he remained with Paul until his final days of imprisonment (2 Tm. 4:11). Luke also seems to have had a special connection with the women in Jesus’ life, especially his mother, Mary. He alone gives us the account of the Annunciation and many details about the infancy of Jesus and the things Mary pondered in her heart.

St. Luke describes a God of compassion, love and joy. In the words and actions of Jesus, we see God’s concern for the socially and economically poor, for women and for social outcasts like prostitutes and tax collectors.

For Luke, life is a journey. Jesus’ journey was always toward Jerusalem and the purpose for which he came. In the days that lie ahead, the journey for each of us is to follow where the Master led, and so we are invited to walk the way of: Prayer and receiving the fullness of the Spirit; gentleness and compassion; care for the poor and those in need; table fellowship and gathering for the breaking of the bread; gratitude with a canticle of joy on our lips; and justice and generosity in the use of wealth and care for the gift of creation.

Sr. Rehrauer is the diocesan director of Evangelization, Living Justice and Worship.

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