A reflection on the readings for Sunday, November 14, 2021 — The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
[Editor’s note: due to changes in schedule for our Sunday reflection contributors, we were left without an reflection today. For that reason, we’re sharing the transcript of the reflection on the Sunday readings by Cardinal Luis Tagle from his weekly television program, “The Word Exposed with Cardinal Tagle.” This half-hour program is produced by Jesuit Communications (JesCom), and features the Sunday readings, music, reflections, and educational content. I encourage you to subscribe to this YouTube Channel and to donate to this apostolate if you would like to support this work.]
Victory is near. This is our hope, and it is not wishful thinking. It is already happening.
Some of you might say, “Look, look at what’s happening in the world too! It seems to be getting darker and darker every day. You know—the pandemic, all the conflicts, the loss of jobs, the number of people who have to escape from their home countries, the number of migrants and refugees, those who are dying of hunger and thirst. What hope are we talking about here?”
Now in the first reading, we see a similar depiction from the prophet, Daniel, a situation of persecution and collapse. But in the midst of that, the assurance: God sends his messenger, Michael, to guide you. And there will be a vindication for those who were unjustly treated.
There will be victory.
There will be victory—in God’s ways. It is God’s victory, and it is already fulfilled in Jesus, according to the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.
Jesus, who offered himself totally in death—Jesus did not have it easy. He was put to death. He was the victim of injustice. He was the victim of lies, but he turned all of this into self-offering.
And where is he now?
Victorious, seated at the right hand of God. And as our intercessor, he assures us of the victory also of humanity and of the world. But that we see in faith, the certainty of faith in what Jesus has accomplished.
In the gospel for today, again, it’s a mixture of something historical—maybe the destruction of Jerusalem, but then projected into the future—for after all, difficulties and collapse happen in all generations. Look at how the destruction is depicted in the gospel.
It is darkness. Darkness.
Whenever there is hardship, whenever there is persecution, wherever there is injustice, manipulation of peoples—there’s only one word to describe the experience: darkness. That’s why Jesus uses nature to say a time will come, that day will come, when the sun—which for us is the source of light—will turn into darkness.
How dreadful! But it is not just the “physical” sun. In our day-to-day life, we’ll cling to sources of light. But sometimes there is no light. The smile of your son or daughter is like the sun to a parent. But sometimes you talk to them, and there is no light.
The sun has lost its light, and you worry.
Why is there darkness in this child? Why?
The moon will lose its light! Of course, the moon takes its light from the sun. If the sun is dark, then the moon is also dark. And according to Jesus, the stars will fall off. Even the little sources of light that break the darkness will disappear. So there will be total darkness.
How frightening it is! But according to Jesus, when you see all of this, that means the son of God is near. Aha!
So we should read the signs of the times. And the signs are not just the darkness, the elements of darkness—the sign is there is light that will come: the Son of God. And he says, my word will not pass away, it will happen.
“Trust in me. I will bring light. I will bring victory. All of you walking in darkness will see the light.” And the second reading affirms that. It is already happening now.
So my dear brothers and sisters, as we all as a humanity, go through moments of darkness, please be attentive to the presence of the son of God bringing light.
Now I remember as a priest, once I went to the market, trying to look at how, how much the vegetables, the fishes cost. And I met one woman, it was early morning, nine o’clock. She was already closing her shop. She was selling vegetables and I asked her, “Why are you closing so early?”
She said, “Oh, I will go to a prayer service.”
I said, “But it’s—it’s very early. You can go later. And you have a family to support. The Lord understands if you will—if you need to work.”
But she said, “But the Lord has always been kind to me. The Lord always guides me. I don’t have to worry.”
Wow. She taught me a lesson.
Victory comes, Jesus comes when there is darkness.
The Word has been exposed. Let us now fulfill it.
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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.