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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Nov. 18, 2012

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

November 18, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Daniel 12:1-3

Psalms 16:5, 8-11

2) Hebrews 10:11-14, 18

Gospel: Mark 13:24-32

The reading for this Sunday from the Book of Daniel describes the moments just before God's reign finally will be accomplished: "It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress."

It reminds me of childbirth. So does Mark's Gospel description: "The stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken." Then the denouement: "When you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates."

Oh yes, he -- or she -- is at the so-called gates!

What a woman commonly experiences in childbirth, indeed, is not unlike the coming of the kingdom or any smaller versions of the moment of salvation. The final days before the arrival of our third child seemed to drag. He was two weeks late, and I remember telling myself that my concern that he'd never get here was irrational and a medical impossibility. Nature would insist that he be born.

Labor began and the metaphor continued: unsurpassed distress until I felt for sure all the powers of heaven were about to break loose. But that's when I knew he was at the gates. Having previously experienced the birth of a baby, I knew there would be pain but that this was pain I could readily endure because it signaled the coming of one of God's greatest gifts: a new life.

So of course that's how God's reign will come. That's God's way. We will struggle against doubt, endure pain, watch dependable earthly forces fail and be badly shaken before we see salvation arrive.

This week's Scripture reminds us we must hold to our belief in a light at the end of the tunnel. We can endure the hard, dark times of this life because they are the necessary precursor to God's promised joy with him in eternity.

I expect the moment when we see "the Son of Man coming in the clouds" will be much like the indescribable rush a new mother gets when her baby is first placed in her arms. I imagine looking into God's face, just as I did with my newborn child, and seeing someone I've known forever. I believe my heart will say to God the same thing it spoke to that baby: "I knew you were coming."


When have you experienced a moment of God's grace after suffering or difficulty? How did your trust in God help you make it through the hard times?


"When you see these things happening, know that he is near." -- Mark 13:29


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