Central idea: The last days and things. Doctrine: The Last Judgment and the hope of a new heaven and a new earth. Practical application: What to do now to be ready for the hour of our death.
Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)
This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)
To view Lectionary 158, click here.
Central idea: The last days and things
Reading 1 Dn 12:1-3
In those days, I Daniel,
heard this word of the Lord:
“At that time there shall arise
Michael, the great prince,
guardian of your people;
it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress
since nations began until that time.
At that time your people shall escape,
everyone who is found written in the book.
“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;
some shall live forever,
others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.
“But the wise shall shine brightly
like the splendor of the firmament,
and those who lead the many to justice
shall be like the stars forever.”
- There have been periods of great distress in human history, and the twentieth century might have been the greatest as of yet, but there still lies ahead “a time unsurpassed in distress,” which Christ calls a great tribulation.
- Unified evil has been thwarted in the past by language and geography, but daily the world is growing smaller and more unified.
- We have no reason to be discouraged, however. We want to be and want to help as many as possible be among those who awake and live forever. If we do this, we may be counted among the wise “who lead the many to justice.”
Responsorial Psalm Ps 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord!
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
- Here is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. My allotted portion and cup is Christ, fully present in the Host and Cup at Communion. Christ is my daily bread. By this Communion, he helps me set him ever before me.
- The only reason we can face temptation, suffering, and distress is because of the faith that God is at our side, now in our earthly life, and because of the hope that we will see him as we cross the line into death, to be with him forever.
Reading 2 Heb 10:11-14, 18
Brothers and sisters:
Every priest stands daily at his ministry,
offering frequently those same sacrifices
that can never take away sins.
But this one offered one sacrifice for sins,
and took his seat forever at the right hand of God;
now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.
For by one offering
he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.
Where there is forgiveness of these,
there is no longer offering for sin.
- The author of the Book of Hebrews contrasts the endless sacrifices offered by the priests of the Old Covenant with the one sacrifice of Christ’s New Covenant. Those countless sacrifices ended when the Romans destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem in AD 70, but Christ’s once sacrifice continues in each Mass.
- We are now in a middle period of history between Christ’s redemption and his Second Coming. The author of Hebrews says “he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.” In other words, under God’s providence, the drama of salvation is playing out in the lives of all of us who have the privilege of living in this middle age. Christ’s enemies—that is, all evildoers and all evildoing—will ultimately fail.
Alleluia Lk 21:36
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
- Why must we be vigilant? Because one day we will stand before the Son of Man and be judged by what we have done.
- Why can’t we just coast along? Because the world, the flesh, and the devil are vigilant in urging us to do what will make us be badly judged.
Gospel Mk 13:24-32
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.
“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.”
- In every age, followers of Christ will face persecution to a lesser or greater degree.
- Jesus’ declares that the Temple of Jerusalem will be destroyed within the lifetime of the apostles, which came true in the year AD 70.
- The destruction of Jerusalem foreshadows the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world.
- The end for most of us will be the moment of death and our particular judgment. So, whether we face external persecution or whether it is just the daily, even moment by moment struggle to be faithful to our Christian vocation, we must be vigilant, keeping watch over ourselves and invoking the help of the Holy Spirit and our allies the saints, beginning with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Doctrine: The Last Judgment and the hope of a new heaven and a new earth
- Although it is Christ’s will and our own that no one be lost, “on the Day of Judgment all men will appear in their own bodies before Christ’s tribunal to render an account of their own deeds” (CCC 1059).
- “[T]he truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare” and “even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life” (CCC 1039).
- Then, “the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ for ever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will then be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28), in eternal life.” (CCC 1060)
- “Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, “the holy city” of God, “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community. The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.” (CCC 1045)
- Nothing good from our earthly life will be lost but will instead be perfectly renewed. “When we have spread on earth the fruits of our nature and our enterprise … according to the command of the Lord and in his Spirit, we will find them once again, cleansed this time from the stain of sin, illuminated and transfigured, when Christ presents to his Father an eternal and universal kingdom.” God will then be “all in all” in eternal life.” (CCC 1050)
- As Cyril of Jerusalem put it, “True and subsistent life consists in this: the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, pouring out his heavenly gifts on all things without exception. Thanks to his mercy, we too, men that we are, have received the inalienable promise of eternal life.” (CCC 1050).
Practical application: What to do now to be ready for the hour of our death
- It is very wise to meditate on the heaven that Love has prepared for us. This can console and motivate us.
- It is very wise to get rid of anything that would prevent us from attaining heaven. This means struggling against sin and eradicating those we commit in the Sacrament of Penance.
- It is very wise to do those acts which will make our judgment a happy event. These are good works.
- In our leisure, we can pray over the points in the Catechism 1038-1050.