Veterans Day was this past Thursday. We know that November 11 is the day every year in the United States in honor of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 that signaled the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
We bring all the veterans in prayer to God at all the Masses this weekend. This is an occasion to remind ourselves of the importance to honor all those who have risked life, limb and mind for our country, because freedom isn’t free. This truth was experienced by the early Christians who were persecuted by the Roman Emperor Nero. Today’s Gospel, taken from Mark (written around 65 AD), offered hope to these suffering Christians reminding them of Jesus’ words about his glorious return to earth with great power and glory as Judge, to gather and reward his elect.
Our Liturgical year will come to an end in a couple of weeks. That’s why the readings are about end times. The Scriptures keep reminding us that God will ensure that the righteous will survive the ordeal and will find a place with Him. Through the parable of the fig tree, Jesus warns us all to read the “signs of the time,” reminding us that we must be ever prepared to give an account of our lives to Jesus when he comes in glory as our Judge, because we cannot know “either the day or the hour” of his Second Coming.
Should this bring fear? No. The coming of Jesus is a joyful occasion. Today’s readings give us the assurance that our God will be with us all the days of our lives. We will have the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, guiding, protecting and strengthening us in spite of our necessary uncertainty concerning the end time when “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”
But some people do become frightened at the thought of dying – whether it is the end of our individual world or that of others. In today’s second reading, the author of the letter to the Hebrews consoles believers who suffer from “end time phobia” with the knowledge that Jesus, who sits forever at God’s right hand, is our mediator. By his sacrificial death, he forgave our sins and sanctified us. Jesus said, “The joy I give you, will not be taken away from you” (John 16:22). That is why St. Paul was able to exhort us confidently: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Your brother in Christ
Fr. Abraham Orapankal