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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday 34th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Rev 20:1-4.11-15): I, John, saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time.

Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Responsorial Psalm: 83
R/. Here God lives among his people.
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young–, your altars, o Lord of hosts, my king and my God!

Blessed they who dwell in your house! Continually they praise you. Blessed the men whose strength you are! They go from strength to strength.
Versicle before the Gospel (Lk 21:28): Alleluia. Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 21,29-33): Jesus said to his disciples, «Look at the fig tree and all the trees. As soon as their buds sprout, you know that summer is already near. In the same way, as soon as you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all this has happened: heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away».

«As soon as you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near»

Deacon Fr. Evaldo PINA FILHO (Brasilia, Brazil)

Today, Jesus invites us to read the signs of our times and epoch, and to acknowledge in them the closeness of the Kingdom of God. He invites us «Look at the fig tree and all the trees» (Lk 21:29) paying attention to what is happening with them: when you look at them, «you know that summer is already near» (Lk 21:30). The fig trees start to blossom. The buds burst open. It is not only the anticipation of the flowers and fruits that springs up, it is also the prognosis of summer, when all trees "begin to show fruit".

According to Benedict XVI «The Word of God makes us change our concept of realism» Indeed, «the realist is the one who recognizes in the Word of God the foundation of all things». This Living Word, that shows us the summer as a sign of imminence and exuberance of all things luminous, is the very Light: «As you see these things happening, you know that the Kingdom of God is near» (Lk 21:31). In this sense, «Now the word is not simply audible; not only does it have a voice, now the word has a face, one which we can see: that of Jesus of Nazareth» (Benedict XVI).

The communication between Jesus and the Father was perfect; and everything He received from the Father, He gave to us by communicating with us in the same perfect way. Thus, the nearness of the Kingdom of God, that articulates God’s free initiative to come to our encounter, must impel us to recognize that proximity of the Kingdom, so that we can also communicate with the Father in a perfect way by means of the Word of the Lord —Verbum Domini—, by appreciating the signs of the Kingdom of God that is so close, as a fulfillment of the Father’s promises in Jesus Christ.

«The kingdom of God is near»

+ Fr. Albert TAULÉ i Viñas (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Jesus invites us to see how the fig tree buds sprout, a symbol of our Church that, periodically, is renewing itself thanks to that inner power God instills in it (let us remember the allegory of the vine and the branches, cf. Jn 15): «Look at the fig tree and all the trees. As soon as their buds sprout, you know that summer is already near» (Lk 21:29-30).

The eschatological discourse we are reading these days, in its prophetic style, deliberately warps chronology, by placing at the same level things that must happen in different moments. The fact that, in the portion of the fragment chosen for today's liturgy, we have a very limited range, allows us to think that, perhaps, we should assume what is therein said as said by us, here and now: «This generation will not pass away, until all this has happened» (Lk 21:32). In fact, Origen already comments: «All this can happen in each one of us; in us, death may remain destroyed, the definite enemy of ours».

Today, I would like to speak as the prophets did: we are about to contemplate a great sprouting in the Church. Look at the signs of the times (cf. Mt 16:3). Soon important things are to happen. Do not be afraid. Remain in your place. Set the seeds enthusiastically. And, afterwards, you will joyfully return carrying your bundled sheaves (cf. Ps 126,6). It is true that the enemy-man will keep on sowing darnel. The evil will not burn until the end of time (cf. Mt 13:30). But the Kingdom of God is already here amidst us. And, through great efforts, it is making his way (cf. Mt 11:12).

Pope John Paul II, said it at the beginning of the third millennium: «Duc in altum» (cf. Lk 5:4). At times, we may feel we do nothing worthwhile, or, even feel we go backwards. But these pessimistic impressions originate in calculations, which are extremely human, or in the bad image some media malevolently likes to give of us. The hidden reality that makes no noise, is this constant work we are doing together, impelled by the force of the Saint Spirit.

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