33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B
Our life’s journey is likened to a pilgrimage. There is a difference between a tourist and pilgrim. For a pilgrim, every step leads to the sense of the sacred while for a tourist it is more of sightseeing. Being members of the Pilgrim Church, we participate in this pilgrimage not by going to the sacred sites or pilgrimage shrines but by celebrating the liturgical seasons. We are now at the end of the liturgical calendar of the Church, hence almost at the end of our pilgrimage in the liturgical season.
This is the reason why the readings are taken from the apocalyptic literature which features about the destruction of the world to signal the end of time. This is particularly pictured symbolically in the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. The Temple was the very heart of Israel and its destruction was almost taken as the death of their national identity. But the world did not end in 70 AD when the Temple of Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans. Therefore the symbols used in the apocalyptic literature should not be taken literally. Vatican II calls them “signs of the times” that we need to read and interpret under the guidance of the Church.
In any form of giving birth, there is a breaking of the old to give way to something new. The destruction of the Temple alludes to the breakthrough in Judaism which was the antecedent in the birthing of Christianity. When the Temple was destroyed the priesthood of Judaism in the Old Testament came to an end to give way to the new priesthood in the New Testament which is the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
All around us life in different forms experiences birthing all the time, a continuous flux of life-processes resulting in the advances of many life forms. The natural calamities can be explained by the geological movements of the earth resulting in the many changes of land formations or weather conditions. Man-made catastrophes are the result of our politics, greed, irresponsibility and improper use of our resources. Either man-made or natural, the world around us is not just changing all the time but also will come to an end just like any other thing. This inevitable reality should not frighten us but instead inspire us to see our life moving forward unto our final destination. Don’t dwell in fear about the end of the world but rather in hope! Until we become a person of faith, our existence is just like a tourist who simply enjoys sightseeing and will never reach his destination. As a pilgrim, being a member of the Pilgrim Church, Vatican II reminds us “…men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society. They can justly consider that by their labor they are unfolding the Creator’s work….” (Gaudium et Spes #34). Each one has a mission to fulfill, that’s why we are here. Big or small, our contribution to the world is our own way of re-creating this world towards a better place not just for us and our loved ones but for generations yet to come.
The person that I am today is the result of my own and collective effort of other people and so I have the responsibility to give back whatever good I have received in my lifetime to the world. I can do this creatively by planting a tree, writing a book, offering help to the needy or anything that will benefit others out of my own charity.
A pilgrim owes the world every bit of his goodness before he reaches the final destination of his pilgrimage….