A clockmaker was about to finish a grandfather’s clock when the pendulum spoke and begged him not to be given that task of swinging back and forth to measure time. “I am afraid I might not be able to do my job well when I have to swing every second or 60 times a minute, about 3600 an hour or 86400 a day,” the pendulum explained to the clockmaker who assured him everything would be fine. The pendulum believed his maker. Life goes on with the pendulum, tick-tock, tick-tock, sounding the chime every hour long even after his clockmaker had died. In a sense, our lives are like the pendulum continually swinging, sometimes late, sometimes advanced. When 2018 started, we felt so unsure of how this year would be but here we are, about to end the year as we look forward for the coming 2019.
After celebrating All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, we are now in the penultimate week of our liturgical calendar set to close on Sunday with the Solemnity of Christ the King. Today we are invited to focus on the “end time” called the eschaton or days of fulfillment of all that God has promised. In fact, every celebration of the Mass is oriented towards this end, especially when we proclaim the mystery of faith, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” In the Apostle’s Creed we profess every Sunday our belief in Jesus Christ “who shall come again to judge the living and the dead” as well as in the “communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of body and life everlasting.”
Jesus said to his disciples: “In those days after that tribulation 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.” (Mk.13:24-25)
Jesus was still in the Temple and the people were marveling at its beauty when he spoke of these words, predicting its fall that would happen in the year 70 AD when Rome sacked Jerusalem. But most of all, Jesus was speaking here in the classical language of apocalypse (from the Greek apocalypsis or revelation). It is the same literary genre used in our first reading from the Book of Daniel. Apocalyptic writings are not meant to be taken literally or even be imagined and pictured in its cosmic upheavals alluded to. Jesus is not scaring us of the coming tribulations but is trying to evoke in us the image of a new creation dawning where the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its light as the stars fall before His splendor as the returning Son of Man (see Rev. 21:23). Recall how in Genesis God first created light by separating it from darkness when earth was all chaos and formless; then, He created the sun, moon, and stars to light the earth by fixing days and nights and years. “In those days” life was simple and a bliss until sin came and everything was shattered. In His infinite goodness, God preserved His creation and promised salvation to renew everything in the coming Savior. “In those days” though there were disturbances and breaks from all the beauty of creation, life went on. There was no need to destroy everything to start anew. God perfects His creation amidst the many imperfections we are into. Just like in our own experiences with the many tribulations we are going through like sickness, losses and deaths. These words of the Lord and of the prophet Daniel are actually encouraging us to look at the fulfillment of the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ Himself personally coming to us, personally involved with us and in us.
“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” (Mk.13:26-27)
Life goes on with all the tribulations in and around us because God never leaves us alone. There would always be destructions and endings in life to give way to more recreations and new beginnings. The key is to be like the pendulum, remaining faithful in our task of lovingly serving God among those around us. In 1996, the rock musical “Rent” opened in Broadway. Its theme song is called “Seasons of Love” which says life is measured not in minutes or time but in love. Very true! The most important and memorable events of our lives are those moments we have loved or we have been loved. To live is to love and that is why if you want to be eternal, love for only love shall remain. And it is love that will see us through in this life that is passing. You are loved! AMEN.Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.
*Photo by Mr. Howie Severino of GMA-7 News, Taal Lake, 13 November 2018. Used with permission. Photo below from Google.