Please note: two reflections are given below, each based on the First Reading or Responsorial Psalm of the day. The Year I readings apply to years ending in an odd number (for example, 2023), while the Year II readings apply to years ending in an even number, such as 2024. The Gospel Reading is the same in both years.
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Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time [Year I]
Daniel 7:15-27 + Luke 21:34-36
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy ….”
Today is the liturgical equivalent of New Year’s Eve. With the end of the Church’s liturgical year, there is a note of celebration. We look back at this concluding year of grace and give thanks to God for the gifts of life and growth in Christ.
Nonetheless, the Church’s liturgical year is never simply about the here and how. The end of each liturgical year is not simply about looking back at the previous 52 weeks. Each year looks back far into history; indeed, even back to that time “in the beginning” when God chose to act as a gracious Creator. Each year also looks forward in hope to the good things that God has promised us. It’s this looking forward in hope that the year’s end in particular focuses upon.
At first glance, the Scriptures of the Sacred Liturgy at the end of the year may not seem very hopeful. In fact, they may seem to focus on quite ominous matters. The “fourth beast” in Daniel’s vision in the First Reading illustrates this focus. Jesus in the Gospel passage seems to issue a warning about “that day”, which “will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth”. Jesus also implies, however, that His followers have good reason for hope. He encourages them to hope for “the strength to escape the tribulations… and to stand before the Son of Man.” This Son of Man is our hope and our Salvation.
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Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time [Year II]
Revelation 22:1-7 + Luke 21:34-36
“For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.”
The Responsorial Psalm on this final day of the liturgical year shows us how the Church’s year is cyclical in nature. The psalm’s refrain is a link, tying together this final day of the year to the season of Advent with which the new year begins this evening.
“Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!” We cry for the coming of the Messiah, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be until the end of time. In the beginning, mankind fell from his state of grace. But God in loving solicitude for His fallen creatures promised to send a savior, and so man began his cry for the Messiah to come.
When He did come, His own people received Him not, as St. John the Evangelist proclaims in the prologue to his Gospel account. His own people in fact put Him to death. Yet it was for this that the Messiah had come.
He will come again at the end of time. When He does, each member of the human family will be judged according to three points. Do you believe that Jesus first came to destroy your sins? Do you believe that Jesus will judge you in the end according to your choice to live for or against Him? Do you believe at this moment that your life is His to live, and that you must cede it to Him?