Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

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Alvin D. Paligutan, O.S.A.
Church of Our Mother of Good Counsel
Los Angeles, California

Readings
Dn 12:1-3
Ps 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11
Heb 10:11-14, 18
Mk 13:24-32

Pearl of Great Price

In this day and age of mistrust in the Church, the priesthood, bishops, and even Pope Francis, in light of the recent sex abuse scandals, it is crucial for us Christians to keep up our faith, hope and love for God, also expressed in our love for our neighbors. I have heard of the saying, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” And that main thing is our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. Why do we need to keep up this relationship with our Lord? Because God loves us very much, even despite our sins. Like any reciprocal relationship, we honor God and give thanks to him for the countless gifts and blessings we receive.

We know that God loves us immensely, since it is written in the Scriptures, God's love letter and “Facebook” to us. Jesus says in Mark’s Gospel (13:24-32) today, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” In the long run, our relationship with God, through Christ, will keep us strong, will heal us and make us whole again. This everlasting relationship will make us happy, allow us to overcome obstacles in this life and lead us to eternal salvation with God’s kingdom.

Therefore, keep on trusting in the Lord and God will reward us with eternal life. We are reminded of this in our first reading today from the prophet Daniel (12:1-3), where he says, “Those who lead many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” We live out our faith in Christ through prayer, through the sacraments like the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and by serving the needs of others, especially those who are poor.

Recently I had the opportunity and blessing to visit our Augustinian communities in Australia, where we serve in two high schools for boys and five parishes. There I learned about Australia's first saint, St. Mary MacKillop (19th century), who founded the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Sacred Heart, dedicated to the Catholic education of children. St. Mary MacKillop and her community of Josephite Sisters started the parochial school system in Australia, just like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, an American saint, started the parish school system here in the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite opposition from the Australian bishops back then, who wanted to take away her schools, Mary MacKillop persevered in the faith and maintained her trust in God, through her relationship with Christ. She wrote in a letter to her Josephite sisters, “When storms rage, when persecutions or danger threaten, I quietly creep into the Sacred Heart’s dark abyss; and securely sheltered there, my soul is in peace, though my body is tossed upon the stormy waves of a cold and selfish world.” (1870 Meditations: Appeal of the Sacred Heart to a Weary Disappointed Soul)

May we always nurture our faith, which is our greatest treasure, the pearl of great price, as Jesus calls it. Together with the psalmist, we can recall our responsorial psalm (Ps. 16:5, 8, 9-10) and faithfully say, “You are my inheritance, O Lord! My allotted portion and my cup.”