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The Father Knows the Hour
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
“But 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. 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. Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I place myself in your presence as I begin this time of prayer with you. Open your word to me, just as you open your heart to me. Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind that I may listen to and receive the word you wish to give me today.
- Time and Tribulation: On this side of eternity, marked fundamentally by time, the fallen state of this world is abundantly clear. A superficial reading of today’s Gospel could provoke sentiments of anxiety and fear as time draws closer to eternity opening before us: tribulation (personal sufferings and societal ones), darkness, natural disasters, falling stars (failing idols)—things so grave that even the powers of Heaven are shaken. A deeper reading reveals more: Rather than forebode doom, as if it were a punishment or a threat to keep us in line, perhaps these words simply affirm and remind us of the effects of sin in this fallen world, so that we are not scandalized or lose faith when we encounter them. God does not want them, but he respects the natural course of the world he has created. And he promises to redeem every injustice, in order to bring about a greater good. This is his vision of things. Lord, open my heart to see the suffering around me with your eyes. These are the very sufferings you have come to redeem.
- The One with Authority: Our God is the Son of Man who has authority over everything. In the very midst of tribulation, indeed, treading its aftermath beneath his feet, he will come with great power and glory. He will send out his messengers to gather up each of his sheep, whom he knows by name. This is what the Father has sent his Son to do: to gather up, bring back, unite, and make us whole again. God’s action always does this. As he heals, his touch orders and sets us aright, and integrates what sin has tried to claim as its own. We can observe the marks of disorder, of tribulation in the world today but where are they within our own heart? May we invite the Son of Man to come into those very places with his authority and power to heal and set everything aright.
- Kept in the Father’s Heart: As we draw near to the end of the liturgical year and reflect upon the end of our lives and the final judgment of the world, Mother Church reminds us what our work as Christians really is: not to know the day or the hour (by “knowing,” we might feel some sense of control) but to place our trust in the One who does know, who holds these details in his heart. Neither the angels nor the Son knows the hour, but only the Father. Towards this end, he will order all in his Providence and goodness. His are worthy hands, indeed, for us to rest and place our trust within.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you lived your life on earth as one totally surrendered, totally trusting in the goodness of your Father—the Father who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the fields; the same Father who has given you authority over all evil, tribulation, and suffering. Grant me faith to gaze upon the world with your eyes; grant me hope to hand over my worries, fears, and concerns to the Father; and grant me great love to prepare for your coming by letting your love be shown through my own practical, real, and concrete gestures for the good of others.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try to give control to you (in a specific situation) and repeat: “Jesus, I trust you.”
For Further Reflection: Pray the prayer of abandonment by Br. Charles of Jesus (Charles Foucauld) together with Jesus, who abandons himself into the Father’s hands.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.