Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary time (14 Nov.)

“There is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence.” The prophet Daniel, in our first reading at Mass today, sounded this warning to the Jews about one hundred and fifty years before the time of Christ. He was writing at a period in Israel’s history which was bleak, chaotic and unpredictable. Sound familiar?

Daniel’s message is clear. Although it may appear that the God of Israel is helpless in the face of the destruction of Jerusalem and could do nothing to prevent the captivity of Israel, God is always in absolute control. “When that time comes, your own people will be spared.”

In the farewell discourse written by Mark, after a warning about the tribulations to come, Jesus assures the faithful that He will come with great power and majesty to gather them to Himself. A time of joy after much suffering. “But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the father.” Everyone must be alert.

We are living in a more sophisticated time than either Daniel or Mark, yet we too, should take their warnings to ourselves. We know that our planet is a tiny speck in a galaxy of one hundred billion planets in our Milky Way, according to NASA, but it is the only place in the known universe which has life; the only place where God has created human beings to be in dialogue with Him – and it is in grave danger. We are destroying our planetary home. Ours is an existential threat.

We are responsible for mass extinctions, loss of biodiversity, global warming, climate catastrophes, acidification of oceans and increasing suffering for the poor people of this world. Contemporary prophets have warned us in COP 26, that we must act now.

“Enough of brutalising biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning, drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.” (The UN Secretary-General, António Guterrez).

God has raised up strong prophets in this time of crisis. Some, like Greta Thunberg are very young people facing a most uncertain future. He has given us the freedom to choose to make a difference in our world; to save it from destruction. Let us listen to the prophets. Now. Today.

Maeve Mc Mahon O.P.

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