Ordinary 33rd Sunday
Ordinary 33rd Sunday
Dan. 12: 1-3 Heb. 10: 11-14, 18 Mk. 13: 24-32
JESUS, THE RANSOM
Great things emerge only after a period of turmoil, struggle and chaos.
Progress Vs. Movement
Newtonian science envisaged of a static universe in which the laws and movements are determined and fixed. However after Einstein, the concept of universe has been completely changed. Today’s science tells us that the universe is in the process of expansion. If nature itself is in the process of change, then it can be said that the same principle is applicable to human beings too. We are called to set our life on a process of constant change. Heraclitus, a famous Greek philosopher, said, “Nothing is permanent but change.” It was Charles Darwin who said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” A life that does not embrace much of change becomes static and stagnant and it breeds nothing but pessimism. Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
However we also need to take care that the change is in the right direction and with the right mindset. Only then change leads to progress. A change, that is not well-guided by right thinking, is merely a movement and not a progress. In a movement, though there is a lot of change, there is no much of growth. However in progress, there is much of growth. The readings today point out the necessary mindset in order to keep our life a progressive one.
The New Vs. the Old:
All of us want to have a better life – a life that contains more happiness, more joy, deeper relationships etc.. There is nobody in the world who wants to remain at the same place. However embracing a better life demands that we pay the cost for it. The cost is nothing but our readiness to go through a process of suffering and self-purification. The readings instruct us that great things emerge only after a period of turmoil, anguish and chaos.
Daniel, in his vision, saw the people, who had acquired knowledge, shining like the brilliance of the firmament, and those who taught people to be just, shining like the stars of eternity. It is the vision of the wise and just people being rewarded. Such a thing would take place, according to Daniel’s vision, only after a period “of anguish as never before since the nations first existed until this very day.” In the gospel, Jesus speaks about the glorious coming of the Son of Man in the clouds with great power and glory. But this has to be preceded by a time of disaster – the sun growing dark, the moon not giving its light, the stars falling out of the sky, and the whole universe being shaken.
That anything new emerges only after a period of destruction is the law of life. For a plant to emerge, the seed has to die; For the day to emerge, the night has to give way. For the earth to receive rain, clouds have to disappear. In other words, for the new to emerge, the old has to die. This is the precise difference between a movement and a progress. In a movement, the old is not much abandoned, whereas in progress, the old is either abandoned or transcended. Of course progress demands a tremendous amount of valour and inner strength. This is the precise reason why many get settled for mere movements, not progress.
Though readings of today talk about emergence of new life against the background of the end of the world, we need not wait for the end of the world to embrace new life. We can turn a new leaf in our life by ‘dying’ to our old self with all its inclinations and attachments. In fact, it is this attachment to the old way of life that is called sin. In the process of dying to our old self, we are not alone. Jesus is there to assist us. The author of the book of Hebrews says that Jesus, by cleansing our sins through his self-sacrifice on the cross, assists us in this process of dying to our old self and embracing the new life. He compares the multitude of sacrifices of the Old Testament, which did not have the power to remove the sins of human beings, with only one sacrifice of Jesus, which has delivered human beings from their sins.
King Richard I of England was a valiant king. He took part in the third crusade, and while he was returning, Leopold V, the Duke of Austria, arrested and captured him. He, in turn, handed him over to Henri VI, who demanded a huge sum as ransom from England people. The amount, he had asked as ransom was, 1,50,000 marks (equivalent of 3000kg silver). Indeed, it was an enormous amount. In order to set their loving king, in England, an extra taxation was imposed, and huge contributions were made. After many months, the amount was paid and Richard I was released. To set one person free, many sacrificed their comforts. In the case of Jesus, it is just the opposite. In order to set many people free, Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross.