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Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (B) Homily -Apocalyptic Writing – Literature

Posted by frmac on November 14, 2009

Every time we read apocalyptic scripture at Mass, there is always the fear that someone is missing the message of hope, and envisioning God as some horrible, cruel and all-powerful beast. Even though Jesus, the Son of God, calls himself the Good Shepherd, and beckons all those that feel burdened to come to him for rest, the power of apocalyptic writing has a tendency to make us forget who God has revealed God to be – God is Love. This Sunday I thought I would give three quotes from preachers who do their best to inspire faith, hope, and love which is what the readings this Sunday are all about. (My own homily will reference these quotes in some way, as we prepare to end our liturgical year by focusing on the end times and the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King next Sunday. Maybe you will find them helpful for your own homily) Fr. Bob MacDonald


Apocalyptic writing comes to us with a meaning, “revealing” or “unveiling.” It reveals God’s truth, the course of human life and our spiritual life. God’s judgment comes to us as the final confrontation between the forces of evil and the forces of good. And that in the end, we are assured of the victory being won by Christ at the cross.

Author: Br. Vince J. Celeste, FMS

I am sure many of us are troubled by the words about the sun being darkened, the moon losing its light and the stars falling down from heaven. Let us just be reminded that this is part of apocalyptic literature which is full of poetic images, metaphors, symbols and double meanings. This kind of literature comes out during times of extreme difficulties for certain groups of people. It uses veiled language to hide the message from the enemies. Hence, it is a big mistake to interpret these words literally. On the other hand, it is also a mistake to dismiss them altogether as hollow poetry or literary idiosyncrasy. But it is a much bigger mistake to be terrified and move about in panic. If we are convinced that it is Jesus, the Incarnate God, who is coming, why be afraid? To be afraid of the coming of Jesus is a big insult to him. What we must be afraid of is to continue living in this world without God, to be away from Jesus.

Author: Fr. Mike Lagrimas – St. Teresa Church – New York 10002

When biblical writers want to get our attention, shake us out of our lethargy and give us hope, they write in the apocalyptic literary genre. We see evidence of this literature in today’s readings from the book of Daniel and from Mark’s gospel. The word "Apocalypse" comes from the Greek and means "to lift the veil." Apocalyptic literature suggests what we think we see as true and as reality, in fact, may be obscured by veils. We think we see – we don’t. We think we know the truth and the way things are – but we don’t. We need vision; we need the veil over our own eyes lifted so we can clearly perceive God’s presence and God’s future coming into our world.

Apocalyptic writing is not meant to be taken literally or thought to contain secret codes reserved for those who can interpret them. Nor is this genre of literature meant to predict dates and places of future events. Though some have tried to make such predictions. Apocalyptic writings don’t have hidden codes which, if we knew the key, we could use to interpret and predict world events. Instead they hold a more profound and important truth for us believers….. the faith of the Bible: even amidst complete upheaval, God has not abandoned us and will emerge victorious over death itself. "The tribulation" Jesus predicts for his disciples is about to take place for him. When their world collapses with Jesus’ death, will they remember and cling to his words and look forward to an entirely new Spring? The same can be asked of us.

Author: Fr. Jude Siciliano OP

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