Homily for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary time year B 2012
Many of us here might have heard of the story of Helen Keller. If you do, please bear with me if I have to repeat it to you because her story is such an inspiration that I can’t help but go back to it every now and again. Helen Adams Keller was born on the 27th of June 1880. Two years later she fell ill due to the then unknown illness which doctors now might call meningitis or something like that. Her illness cost her sense of sight, her sense of hearing and her sense of speech. She became blind, deaf and mute. After few years of trying to help her by going to the specialists including Alexander Graham Bell [the inventor of the telephone who was specialising in working with the deaf children then], the family asked the help of a teacher who had helped Helen progress tremendously with her ability to communicate. In 1887, Miss Anne Sullivan came to teach Helen Keller and Beginning in 1887, Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her make tremendous progress with her ability to communicate, And so began a 49-year relationship between teacher and pupil. Because of Anne Sullivan’s courage and determination, she helped Helen Keller overcome her limitations and even went far beyond them. She went to college and graduated in 1904. During her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments. She also became a humanitarian, a social activist, a renowned speaker and lecturer, a popular icon for the people with disabilities, and wrote poems and essays about her life and her cause. One of the things she wrote was about her exposition of the things she would do and the places she would go to and see if she would be only given three days to see. [See: https://junjunfaithbook.com/2011/03/20/three-days-to-see-an-excerpt-by-helen-keller/]
“The first day I devoted to my friends, animate and inanimate. The second revealed to me the history of man and Nature. (Third day) I shall spend in the workaday world of the present, amid the haunts of men going about the business of life. And where can one find so many activities and conditions of men as in New York? So the city becomes my destination.” She described in here in great details the things she really wanted to do and to see during those three days.
Friends I am telling you this story because this speaks of our typical human longing which is to know. For Helen Keller she wants to know what things are really like. I want to watch news on TV because I want to know what’s going on in the world. The Royal commission is being announced because apparently Australia needs to know the truth of the abuses or misdeeds of any organizations and institutions in the country. The disciples in our gospel today were also curious to know.
Our gospel today is a part of the Apocalyptic discourse of Jesus or the end of days and for his second coming. Earlier in the gospel, Jesus told his closest disciples about the imminent destruction of the temple, the coming persecutions, the coming of the Son of Man. Peter, James, John and Andrew was curious of this, so they asked Jesus: ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished? [Mk 13:3-4). In today’s gospel Jesus told them of some signs: ‘The sun will be darkened… the stars will be falling from heaven, etc…It is quite scary really. But this gospel is not meant to scare us. If we read on, there is a good news following: ‘Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.’ [Mk 13:26]. And the good News is that we have hope that after so much distress, turmoil or unrest, Jesus would come in all his glory. This same message of hope is what St Mark wanted to convey to his audience when he wrote the gospel. We are to recall that during this time, the early Christian church was under persecution. So we can imagine how distressful it might have been for many of them. Everyday they had to face the possibility of being killed, being thrown into the arena to be devoured by beasts, or to burnt at stake.
This same message of hope is what Jesus tells all of us today. He is not playing blind and deaf of what happened in the world today. They might be frustrating for us Christians. They might be disappointing for so many of us but thank God we are here still celebrating this Eucharist. Because here, we are renewing our sense of hope and trust that even in the midst of distress we still can find God in there. With this hope of Christ’s glory, we need not know when really is Jesus coming, or when really is the end of the world. For Jesus, as in the gospels, what matters most is not when but how prepared are we for his Second coming.
So how are we preparing for his Second Coming then?
The First reading can be our point of reflection here. Prophet Daniel prophesied: “The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as the stars for all eternity. [Dan.12:3]” This calls us to continue living in hope, in active and in living faith and in selfless love. This also urges us to look forward to that day with joyful hope and faithfully doing our Christian duties while waiting for Christ’ coming in glory.
Our Second Reading also tells us to keep focus on Christ as the one who offered his very life to save us from sin and eternal death. This gives us an assurance that with Christ always before us, within us and working through us, we would be able to stand firm on the faith. With Christ as our ground and foundation, though our knees might be shaking but we know we are standing on the right ground to borrow the words of Archbishop Romero of El Salvador.
The third way to prepare for second coming is to trust God that he’ll fulfil his promises and that he will never fail us. God is our hope, our portion and cup, our prize, says the psalmist. God keeps us safe. He will show us the path of life, the fullness of joy and happiness forever [Ps 15:5. 8-11].
With hope, Helen Keller was able to transcend her disabilities. The gospel today also tells us that with hope, we can overcome distress and turmoil. Today, as Christians, as a Church we are challenged in many ways. So we are called to make this hope of Christ’s glory always before us, because it is by knowing and believing that Christ rose from the dead and will come again that we can withstand all trials and tribulations we might be facing right now.