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Sunday Readings & Reflections


THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY OF YEAR  B

 

Theme: THE END IS THE BEGINNING

Today’s second reading speaks of the daily offerings made by the ordinary priests. The one Christ makes is shown to be superior to that offered daily by the priests. It is only one offering, but it initiates us totally into life with God.

First Reading: Daniel 12:1-3;
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 16;
Second Reading:Hebrews 10:11-14.18;
Gospel: Mark 13:24-32;
Resources used:
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa
*Painting: Poster No. 53, Pentecost – by S. Ajak Bullen


 

Seated at the Right Hand of God

In some traditions, to be seated at the right hand of somebody in authority is to share in the authority of that person (Lk 20:42). The two sons of Zebedee ask Jesus to be granted the favour of sitting one at his right and the other at his left (Mk 10:37). They want to share in the glory of Jesus. Their colleagues are angry because they were probably also aspiring to such positions of honour, thinking that Jesus’ Lordship is an earthly one. However, they do not know that Jesus’ glory will come only through the Cross.

In the New Testament, the expression to be seated at the right hand of God alludes to Ps 110: I. It is applied to, and almost exclusively used, in reference to Jesus (Mk 16:19; Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; Rom 8:34; CoI3:1; Heb 10:12; I Pt 3:22). Some-times, instead of sitting, Jesus is presented as standing at the right hand of God (Act’ 7:55.56). Both images express the same thing: namely, Jesus has been approved and glorified by God the Father.

The letter to the Hebrews has been insisting all along on Jesus’ superiority compared to the priests of old and how his sacrifice is better than theirs. The image of Jesus sitting is the final contrast. While they are stand-ing to offer the daily and annual sacrifices (Dt 18:5; Heb 10: II), Jesus has offered himself once and for all and now sits down. His priestly duty is accomplished and the effects continue. However, the way that led to this union with God was a life of obedience, service and the total gift of self.

The joy of serving others and the gift of self prepare us for greater union with God. It is not just a question of sitting down and enjoying oneself. Claiming entitlement because of other services we do in the Christian community does not reflect Jesus’ way of acting.

Jesus Perfects Those Being Consecrated

At the beginning of the letter, the author affirmed that God made Jesus, the leader, “perfect” through suffering (Heb 2: 10). This expression does not have moral connotations. The Greek word “to make perfect” (teleioo) can also be translated: to make whole, or to complete, or to attain a purpose or end. It can be used for the summit of goodness or of evil! When used of persons, it means that the person is not content with half-measures. It means that the passage from one state to the other has fully occurred. It can be said of a child who has passed from childhood to youth and adulthood, that s/he has attained the end of the human growth process. The initiation or growth process is complete. It is in this sense that it is often translated as “perfect.”

For the author of Hebrews, Jesus has attained the goal of his mission and with the Resurrection and glorification by God; he is “perfect.” What is remarkable is that this perfection of Jesus is not just for himself alone. He has entered into God’s presence, in view of leading his brothers and sisters into God’s presence. This further distinguishes him from the priests of old. Only the priests entered into God’s presence in order to offer the sacrifice for the people.

Between the first mention of making perfect (Heb 2:10) and the mention at the end of the comparison between Jesus’ priesthood and that of the Levitical priests, there is a difference. Having been made perfect by God, it is now Jesus who, through his sacrifice, makes perfect those who have been set aside (Heb 10: 14). They have every reason to be confident as they approach God (Heb 10: 19-23), and to encourage one another to love and do good works (Heb 10:24-25). Faith in Jesus, the “perfect” one and the one who makes others “perfect,” also leads his disciples to commit themselves in love where they are. The end is actually the beginning of a new life.

An African proverb has it that if the fish comes out of the water to tell you that the crocodile has teeth, you should believe it. Since the fish is coming from the water, it knows the actions of the other creatures in the water. In a similar way, having attained perfection, Jesus knows what this is, and certainly shows us the correct way to attain it. It is the way of love, faith and hope.

Sunday Readings

First Reading Daniel 12:1-3

“At that time your people shall be delivered.”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 16

R. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup; you yourself who secure my lot. I keep the Lord before me always; with him at my right hand, I shall not be moved.R.

R. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

And so, my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my flesh shall rest in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to hell, nor let your holy one see corruption. R.

R. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand, bliss forever.

R. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.









SECOND READING
Hebrews 10:11-14.18

“By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews

Every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
The word of the Lord.

Alleluia. Watch at all times, praying that you may be able to stand before the Son of man. Alleluia.
GOSPEL READING
Mark 13:24-32

“He will gather his elect from the four winds.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “In those days, after that [great] tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The Gospel of the Lord.



Sunday Reflections


THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY OF YEAR B

*Adapted from: “God’s Word for Christian Communities, Second Readings of Sundays”, by Richard Baawobr M.Afr — Paulines Publications Africa, 2009.


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