33rd Sunday of the Year
Deuteronomy 12:1–3; Hebrews 10:11–14, 18; Mark 13:24–32

Second Chance
In the end, only two things will matter: the service we have rendered to others and love.

The film Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is the story of a man about to be hanged. Enemy soldiers march him out to a bridge across Owl Creek. They take a board and place it so that half if it rests on the bridge and the other half extends over the edge of the bridge.

Then one of the soldiers stands on the half that rests on the bridge, and the condemned man is made to walk out and stand on the half that extends over the edge of the bridge. Next, the man’s hands and legs are tied, and a rope is dropped from the top of the bridge and put around the man’s neck.

When everything is ready, the commanding officer barks the order. The soldier steps off the board and the condemned man plunges downward with the rope around his neck.

Then something strange happens. The rope breaks,
and the condemned man goes plummeting into the river far below.

Dow, down into the water he sinks. As he does, he’s aware that he’s alive and struggles to free his hands and feet. Miraculously, he manages to untie himself.


Realizing he has a second chance at life, the man begins to swim down the river. As he does, he passes a tree branch
floating in the water.
He is struck by the beauty of the leaves on the branch.
He marvels a the intricate pattern of veins in the leaves.

Then the man sees a spider spinning a web.
He is struck by the beauty of the web and the tiny drops of water clinging to it like sparkling diamonds.


He feels the wetness of the water on his body.
He looks up and sees the blueness of the sky.
Never has the world looked so beautiful to him.

Suddenly the soldiers on the bridge begin to fire at the man.
He fights his way through a hail of bullets,
past a water snake, and over a waterfall.
Finally, he swims ashore totally exhausted.

He drops to the sand and rolls over and over.
He looks up and sees a flower.
He crawls over to it and smells it.
Everything is so beautiful; it’s so great to be alive.

Then a bullet whistles through the trees, and the man leaps to his feet and begins to run. He runs and runs until he comes to a house with a white fence around it. The gate swings open mysteriously.

The man can’t believe his eyes. He is back home safe.
He calls his wife’s name, and she comes running out of the house,  arms outstretched to greet him.

Just as they embrace, the camera takes us back to Owl Creek Bridge. This time, we can’t believe our eyes. We see the body of the same man plunge downward with the rope around his neck. Then we see his body swinging back and forth, back and forth. The man is dead.

We are left stunned. All the effort, the running,
the second chance were pure make-believe.

The man had not escaped after all. He merely imagined that he had in the split second as he fell to his death.
He merely imagined that he had gotten a second chance at life—a life he suddenly saw in a different way, a life he suddenly saw through new eyes.

For the first time,
the man saw the world for what it is—a beautiful place.

For the first time,
the man saw life for what it is—a precious gift to be shared with those we love.

How differently the man would have lived his new life
if he had really escaped and had really been given a second chance!

This raises a question.
What did the author have in mind
when he wrote his story?
What message did he want to communicate?

To put it in another way, why did the author deliberately mislead us?
Why did he build us up for such a terrible letdown?
Why did he lead us to believe that the man got a second chance at life?

Ithink one thing he had in mind was the same thing Jesus had in mind in today’s gospel. The author of the story is telling us:

“The man in my story is also you!
The condemned man in my story didn’t get his second chance at life, but you have shared his experience, and you do have a second chance.”

The author is saying to us:

“The hour will come when you will die, as that man did.
No one knows when that hour will be,
but it will come, as it did for that man.”

Some years ago Dr. Kubler-Ross of the University of Chicago wrote a book called Death and Dying.
It grew out of her work with terminally ill people.
Commenting on their feelings about life as they looked back on it at the moment of death, she writes:


“[They saw in the final analysis that only two things matter:]
the service you render others and love. All those things we think are important, like fame, money, prestige, and power, are insignificant.”

This observation tallies perfectly with what Jesus taught in his lifetime. He said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served;
he came to serve.” Mark 10:45
He also said, “Love one another, just as I love you.” John 15:12

Today’s gospel invites us to reflect on the moment when
we will meet Jesus at the end of our lives or at the end of the world—whichever comes first. It invites us to ask ourselves:
How satisfied will we be at that moment with the quality of our service and love?

Unlike the man in the story, we have a second chance to prepare for that hour—beginning right now.
What will we do with our second chance?

Will we sincerely try to make an effort to love, as Jesus did?
Will we sincerely try to make an effort to serve, as Jesus did?

Only we can answer that question. The answer we give is important. It could be the most important answer we will ever give to any question.

Let’s close by listening to a passage from Weldon Johnson’s book God’s Trombones. In the passage Johnson describes the death of a saintly woman:

“She saw what we couldn’t see; she saw Old Death.
She saw Old Death coming like a falling star.
But death didn’t frighten Sister Caroline;
he looked to her like a welcome friend.

And she whispered to us: ‘I’m going home.’
And she smiled and closed her eyes.”

Series II
33rd Sunday of the Year
Deuteronomy 12:1–3; Hebrews 10:11–14, 18; Mark 13:24–32

Preparing for Bad News
Jesus’ words about the end of the Old Testament era apply also to the end of the world.

Some time ago syndicated columnist Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune wrote an article called  “Preparing for the Bad News.’’  He began by telling his readers:

“It’s not considered very fashionable to say the Russians have a great idea. But the Russians have a great idea. I think we Americans might copy it.’’

Greene continued by describing how the Russian government—at least, before glasnost and perestroika—
prepared its citizens for bad news.

They interrupted all regularly scheduled radio and TV programs and began playing somber symphonic music
in place of them.

Sometimes the music played for an hour.
Sometimes it played for an entire day;
sometimes it played even longer.

The purpose of the music was to prepare the people,
psychologically and spiritually,
for an unpleasant announcement,
for example,
the death of a Russian leader or the death of a Russian cosmonaut.

Greene admits this practice drives the Western news media crazy, but he believes the Russians have a point. People need to be prepared for bad news.

Today’s gospel portrays Jesus preparing the people for bad news.

He tells them that a great catastrophe is going to take place in their lifetime. Moreover, it will be preceded by certain signs.

History records that Jesus was talking about the destruction
of Jerusalem and the Temple. This catastrophe took place
within 40 years of Jesus’ death. It brought an end to the Old Testament world as Jews of Jesus’ time knew it.

This helps to explain why Jesus’ warning of the catastrophe
has always been interpreted by Christians as a warning, also,
of the end of the entire world.

And this is how the Church uses it in today’s gospel:
to refer not to the end of the Old Testament world
but to the end of the entire world.

No one knows the day or the hour when that monumental event will take place. Only our Father in heaven knows this.

But certain signs will precede that end,
just as certain signs preceded the end of the Old Testament world.

Some people think  there are signs taking place today
that suggest
that the end of the entire world is near.

One sign they point to is the proliferation of military weapons,
especially among terror-oriented nations.

For example,
nearly a dozen countries, some with a reputation for terror tactics, now have the nuclear capacity to plunge our world into a dark age.

One mistake or one angry act could trigger an event
that could doom millions of people—even our entire planet.

No prudent person can take lightly such a disturbing possibility.

In today’s gospel, Jesus sets before us two sobering themes—
the suddenness with which our life could end and our preparedness for that end.

These are gutsy themes.
These are themes that we cannot afford to take lightly.
These are themes that we cannot afford to dismiss casually.
These are themes that have a potential to change our lives.

And that’s why the Church sets these two themes before us
at the end of the liturgical year.

It wants to remind us, as Jesus reminded his disciples
at the end of his own earthly life, that life on earth is but a brief preparation for an eternal life to come.

Therefore, we should not get so involved with our earthly life here that we lose sight of our eternal life to come.

No one knows when our earthly life will end or
when the world will end.
Only the Father in heaven knows this.

Therefore, we should always be prepared for that moment.
It will come when we least expect it.
It will come suddenly, giving us little or no time to prepare.

Afew years ago a Japanese airliner crashed into a mountain, killing 520 people.

Minutes before the airliner hit the mountain, the passengers were told the plane was doomed. Then the tragedy occurred.

When rescuers reached the plane, one of the things they found in the debris was a pocket calendar

that belonged to a Japanese businessman. Across the pages of the tiny calendar the man had scribbled several hasty notes
as the final minutes ticked off.

For example, one note read,
“We’re not going to make it . . . I’m sad!’’
A second note addressed to his family read,
“To think that our dinner last night
was the last time [we would be together].’’

And a final note addressed to his three children read,
“Be good, work hard, and help your mother.’’

These hurried notes are those of a man caught off guard.
No somber music played for an hour or a day to prepare him for the bad news.

It came suddenly, like a thief in the night.

This is also the point of Jesus’ remarks in today’s gospel.
None of us knows when the end of our life or of all life on earth will come. Therefore, we must be prepared always.

This is the message that Jesus speaks to us in today’s gospel.
This is the message that Jesus wants us to ponder prayerfully.
This is a message we cannot afford to ignore.

Let’s close by listening to a passage from James Weldon Johnson’s book God’s Trombones. It describes the final moment in the life of a saintly woman named Caroline.
She was fully prepared for death when it came.
Johnson writes of Caroline:

She saw what we couldn’t see;
she saw Old Death.
She saw Old Death coming like a falling star.

But death didn’t frighten Sister Caroline;
he looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: “I’m going home.”
And she smiled and closed her eyes.

Series III
33rd Sunday of the Year
Daniel 12:1–3; Hebrews 10:11–14, 18; Mark 13:24–32

End of the world
A final judgment awaits us.

Then the Son of Man will appear, coming in the clouds
with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26

Dr. Wilder Penfield is revered by many in the medical profession as one of the greatest neurosurgeons who ever lived.

His research and drawings of the human brain pinpoint with precise accuracy which locations in the brain control what activities of the human body.

Penfield wrote several books and several hundred scientific articles detailing his experiments and discoveries at Montreal’s Neurological Institute.

One discovery involved touching the temporal cortex of the brain with a gentle electric current while patients were under local anesthesia. Thus they could describe to him what they experienced.

What they told Penfield was amazing. One patient,
for example,
heard an old tune. Another relived the experience of bearing her baby.

Commenting on these discoveries,
Dr. Penfield reported:

The psychical experience, thus produced, [by touching the brain] stops when the electrode is withdrawn and repeats itself when the electrode is reapplied. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry

In a report to the Smithsonian Institute, Dr. Penfield said that the human brain contains a permanent record of the operative events of our life. We might compare this record
to a movie complete with sound track.

More amazing still:

This record also includes a record of the emotions which these events originally produced in us.

For example,
if we relived stealing something from a store when our conscience told us it was a sin, this, too, is part of the recording.

How does all this relate to today’s Gospel and the end of the world?

A basic teaching of the Bible is that every person will be judged after death. Thus Saint Paul writes:

For all of us must appear before Christ, to be judged [and] . . . receive what we deserve, according to everything we have done,
good or bad, in our bodily life. 2 Corinthians 5:10

The Bible speaks of two judgments: a particular judgment right after death and a last judgment at the end of the world.
Let’s take a closer look at each.

First, take the particular judgment. Jesus alludes to it in his parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Recall it briefly.

Two men died about the same time. Lazarus ended up in heaven. The rich man, who ignored the plight and poverty of Lazarus on earth, ended up in a place of torment.

He pleaded with Abraham to let Lazarus return to earth and warn his brothers to change their ways,
lest they end up as he did.

The particular judgment takes place immediately after death.
It will result in one of three destinies:

The particular judgment takes place immediately after death.
It will result in one of three destinies:

That brings us to the second judgment, called the Last Judgment. Jesus referred to it one day, saying to his disciples:

“When the Son of Man comes as King and all the angels with him . . .
the people of all the nations will be gathered before him. . . .

“Then he will divide them into two groups,
just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. . . .

“Then the king will say to the people on the right,
‘Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world.

“ ‘I was hungry and you fed me,
thirsty and you gave me drink . . .
naked and you clothed me. . . .’

“Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Away from me. . . . I tell you,
whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones,
you refused to help me.’ ” Matthew 25:31–45 passim

The Last Judgment serves as a kind of closure or, if you will,
a kind of “grand finale” to human history.
As such, it reveals to the entire world what each of us has done and has become in the course of our lives.

This brings us back to Dr. Penfield’s statement that the human brain contains a permanent record of our entire life.

It brings us back, especially, to his report that when
the temporal cortex of the brain is touched, it activates a kind of movie and sound track of the operative events of our life.


It not only activates them but replays them and shows how we
interpreted them—good or bad—at the time they took place.

For example,
if one of these events involved stealing, it also includes
whether we thought and felt the act to be sinful.
Thus it records not only the operative events of our life but also their morality—that is, their moral
“goodness” or “badness.” This prompted one person to say:

“I will tell you a secret, my friend. When you appear before Christ to be judged, you won’t need an angel to read off your good and bad deeds from a great big book.

“Those deeds are already available for replay in your brain.
All that is needed is for them to be activated.”

Let us conclude. The message of today’s Gospel is terribly important, because it deals with the bottom line of the purpose of our life on earth.

Therefore, as we return to the table of the Lord
to continue our celebration, let us pray for the grace to take to heart the word of the Lord in today’s Gospel.

Let us pray that we may live it out in such a way that when we appear before Christ for judgment, we will hear him say:

“Well done, you good and faithful servant! . . .
Come on in and share my happiness.” Matthew 25:21

ค้นหา

Bible Diary 2019

IMG resize 2019

บทอ่านและบทมิสซา

ordomissae

พระวาจาประจำวัน

word of God 2

ข้อคิดจากพระวาจา

word of God 1

หมวดปรีชาญาณ

wisdom books

บทเพลงศักดิ์สิทธิ์

angels-5b

พันธสัญญาใหม่

spd 20110902115342 b

เอกสารฉลอง 350 ปี

350

เว็บไซต์คาทอลิก

  • bkk

  • haab

  • becthailand

  • santikham

  • pope report-francis

  • bannerpope

  • cc_link2011

  • 0002

  • thaicatholicbible

  • mass

  • bnbec

  • facebook

สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

วันนี้
เมื่อวาน
สัปดาห์นี้
เดือนนี้
เดือนที่แล้ว
ทั้งหมด
7082
9544
50532
246851
416637
12325840
Your IP: 3.80.223.123
2019-05-24 20:22

สถานะการเยี่ยมชม

มี 109 ผู้มาเยือน และ ไม่มีสมาชิกออนไลน์ ออนไลน์

แผนกคริสตศาสนธรรม อัครสังฆมณฑลกรุงเทพฯ 122/8 อาคารแม่พระรับเกียรติยกขึ้นสวรรค์ ซ.นนทรี 14 ถ.นนทรี แขวงช่องนนทรี เขตยานนาวา กรุงเทพฯ 10120

โทร 02-681-3850 มือถือ 095-953-3070 โทรสาร 02-681-3851