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November 14, 2021: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel – Mark 13:24-32

Jesus said to his disciples: “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.

“Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But for that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”


The first reading from Daniel has a line about those who sleep in the dust of the earth awakening and wandering. The Gospel acclamation asks one to pray to have strength to stand before the Son of Man. Even before one word of the Gospel is spoken, one knows the discussion is going to be about a scary place and time. My mind is all too ready to jump to a science fiction movie depicting the horror and chaos of the end of the world.

Then there is the image of Jesus pausing the powers of destruction as those to be saved pour in from all peoples and places of God’s earth. That is where my conscious mind steps in to remind me the point is to first live a good life (follow that Greatest Commandment) and second, remain vigilant for that call.

I grew up in a part of the country where the afternoon forecast often includes chance of thunderstorms. I have stood outside as a storm develops. I know what it is to read the signs in the natural world around me. I know too the time to be prudent is before chaos breaks out. My mother would gather my brothers and me safely inside before the winds and downpour. Though the storm raged outside, our world was snacks, games, and the love of being together.

No matter what chaos the storm seeks to deliver, I will always see the Son of Man holding back those forces as He calls each of us safely home.


Our world is scarred by storms of injustice and inequality. Let us look to the first reading of today “ … those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever (Daniel 12:3).” For this week, let us each find and choose somewhere to make a positive difference calming or holding back the storms others might be facing. Let’s walk one another home in safety.

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Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin is a Providence Associate. She is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer. Helen received her Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Boston College. She is a fulltime science teacher. She is a guest columnist for her Diocese’s Catholic Newspaper “The Anchor.” She enjoys volunteering at the local nursing home.

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