A Second Chance at Living, that chance is Now

Homily for the Thirty-Third Sunday of Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

After the Gulf War in 1991 black snow fell in parts of the Middle East caused by the smoke from all the burning oil in Kuwait. With nuclear weapons humanity possesses the power now to create a nuclear winter where the sun’s light would be blotted out due to so much smoke in the atmosphere. It is sobering to think that we now have the power to fulfill Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel when he said the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, stars will fall and the powers in the heavens will be shaken (Mark 13:24-25). Jesus made that statement not to frighten us but to remind us that there is nothing permanent in this world and to live with an eye on the End because when he comes again the world and the cosmos will be dissolved. Jesus said those words to give us a second chance, a second chance at living as he asks, a second chance at preparing for judgment, a second chance at preparing for our death.

We live between the first and second coming of Jesus. In one of our Eucharistic Acclamations we profess our faith in Jesus’ Second Coming:

“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

Whether we are dead or alive when Jesus comes again, we believe that he will judge us. In the Creed which we pray every Sunday we proclaim:

“He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.”

We profess in the Creed our belief in a judgment awaiting us; we will see the evil effects our sins have caused, we will see the opportunities we had for good but let slip by, as well as the good we have done. We will see all that we would do if we got a second chance at life. Jesus proclaimed the words of the Gospel today to remind us of what lies ahead so that we live now with that second chance.

Jesus’ first coming as man, the time we are living in now, and Jesus’ Second Coming are one entire act of saving the world, and Jesus’ Second Coming is the final part of saving the world. The final act in the drama will be the resurrection of us all and the general judgment of us all together. In the first reading we heard:

“Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace.” (Dan 12:2)

When will the End come? No one knows although many down through the centuries have tried to predict and have been mistaken. They should pay more attention to Jesus in the Gospel today where he says that no one knows when the End will be, neither the angels, nor Jesus himself, only the Father knows (Mark 13:32). Whenever the End will be, we have a second chance to prepare for it and that chance is now.

Living now between the first and Second Coming of Jesus, between the Incarnation of Jesus and the End, we cannot but be aware that there is a great battle going on, a battle between good and evil which seems to be intensifying. We see it especially in the destruction of family life and the priesthood and the lack of respect for life. We also see the good that people do, the rise of prayer groups, people going on pilgrimage. That battle between good and evil will be finally over when Jesus comes again. Then evil will be conquered forever and good will be victorious. Living now in the time between the first and Second Coming of Jesus each of us has the capacity - a second chance - to quicken the triumph of good over evil by living more as Jesus asks or perhaps we could say to allow Jesus to have more control over our lives or more room in our lives. We allow Jesus to have more room in our lives by spending time with him in prayer, by attending Mass every Sunday and as often as possible during the week, by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly, once a month or if possible more frequently, by praying the Rosary, by praying together as a family. We allow Jesus more room in our lives and more control over our lives when we live the way he asks us to live, when we are morally upright. When we allow Jesus to be the focus of our lives we are tipping the balance in the battle between good and evil a bit more towards the eventual victory of good over evil. We have a second chance at living, that second chance is now.

“God won’t ask the square footage of your house. He will ask how many people you helped who didn’t have a house.

God won’t ask how many fancy clothes you had in your closet. He will ask how many of those clothes you gave away to those who didn’t have any.

God won’t ask how many material possessions you had. He will ask whether those material possessions dictated your life.

God won’t ask what your highest salary was. He will ask if you trampled over any people to obtain that salary.

God won’t ask how much overtime you worked. He will ask did you work overtime for your family.

God won’t ask how many promotions you received. He will ask what you did to promote others.

God won’t ask what your job title was. He will ask did you perform your job to the best of your ability.

God won’t ask what your parents did to help you. He will ask what you did to help your parents.

God won’t ask what you did to help yourself. He will ask what you did to help others.

God won’t ask how many friends you had. He will ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

God won’t ask what you did to protect your rights. He will ask what you did to protect the right of others.”

(Unfortunately I do not know the source of this poem)

We have a second chance, that chance is now.

“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

“He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.”

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More related material for the Thirty-Third Sunday Year B

Related Homilies: Preparing for the the Second Coming of Jesus