“Seasons” by Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our world loves to deal in seasons.  Every sport has its season.  Accountants have tax season.  Office supply stores have back-to-school season.  And of course the most culturally permeating season of all seasons, the Christmas season.  By season here, we mean a certain period of time that comes around every year (whether it’s related to the four seasons of the weather or not).

Maybe you’ve never thought about this before, but there are even seasons WITHIN seasons.  Think about winter for example.  There’s the exciting sub-season of winter right at the beginning, where we get so excited the first time it snows, and we romanticize the idea of going inside to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.  Then there’s the grueling end of winter, where everyone is sick of shoveling and snow-blowing , and we all just want it to warm up already.  In baseball season, there’s the feeling of anticipation in the early spring when pitchers and catchers report,  there’s a lull in the summer where it can be boring even for the biggest fans (especially if your team isn’t doing very well) and then things pick back up again in fall when we get to the playoffs.

The Church is no different; we love our seasons.  If someone asked you to list the various Liturgical seasons, you could probably name the big ones; Lent, Advent, maybe you’d even come up with Ordinary Time.  Ordinary time is much longer and seemingly less exciting than the other seasons, since it doesn’t have a wreath to light with colored candles, and we don’t usually give something up.  But even Ordinary time has these seasons within a season.  At the end of Ordinary Time, where we find ourselves now, there’s a focus on the end of the world.  Not something people love thinking about; perhaps that’s why we put it off until the end of the Church calendar…

Or maybe not.  Maybe the reason that the readings begin to focus on the end of the world at the end of the Church year is because we’re really building toward that all year long.  It’s easy to reduce our faith to Jesus having taught in some insightful parables, and to lose sight of where we’re going in the end.  It’s easy to put heaven on the back burner.  So this mini-season within Ordinary Time reminds all of us that one day, either at the end of our own life, or when Jesus returns at the end of time (whichever comes first!), we’ll be judged.  “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.”  Yikes!

But it goes on in the First Reading; “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”  That sounds amazing!

And then Jesus at the end of the Gospel tells us “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  So what do we take from all this in this final season within the season of Ordinary Time?

If there are any Boy Scouts out there, you could probably summarize it with the familiar motto, “Be Prepared.”  We should live out our faith in our lives every day, so that whenever that day comes when we meet Jesus face to face, we’re as ready as we can be (and we should be excited for that!).  And we should try to “lead the many to justice” along the way as well, so that we and everyone else we’ve encountered in our lives can be as close to Jesus as possible when that day comes, so that we want to and get to spend eternal life with him.  So be prepared!

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