33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (November 18, 2018)
One of my absolute favorite things to do is go to the movies. Not watching a movie at home, but seeing it on the big screen with a tub of popcorn in my lap. For me, watching a movie allows me to forget about all of my daily stresses and, for at least two hours, feel like I’m actually living in the story that I’m watching. I can get so caught up in a movie that I’m completely emotionally engaged in it, if you know what I mean.
After watching “Jaws”, I couldn’t swim in my parent’s pool in the evening for fear of a great white shark coming up out of the deep end and grabbing my foot. The “Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa taught me to never count out the underdog after he knocked out the world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. Thanks to Stephen King, I can no longer walk near a storm drain by the side of the road because there just may be a clown waiting to pull me in. Mel Gibson painted a very realistic depiction of what a Roman scourging and crucifixion actually looks like in his movie, “The Passion.” Now, every Palm Sunday and Good Friday, when we read the passion narrative at church, I can’t help but play those scenes in my mind.
My absolute favorite movie genre has to be military and war movies that are based on real life events. Movies like, “Black Hawk Down,” “For Greater Glory,” and “We Were Soldiers.” I think the reason I like them so much is because it shows just how far some people are willing to go to help and defend others. Putting their lives on the line for someone they’ve probably never met. To be willing to die for a greater cause.
But the trouble with the movies are… they don’t last forever… usually 2-3 hours after leaving the theater… my emotional “high” from allowing my imagination to be engulfed by the big screen is gone… and it’s back to reality and my day to day stresses and worries.
So why in the world am I going on and on about my love of movies?? Do me a favor and close your eyes as I read something to you. I’m going to use my best “movie narrator” voice so allow your imagination to form a mental picture. Here goes:
“At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people… Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace…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.”
Open your eyes. Did anyone else hear James Earl Jones’ voice reading that or is it just me? Don’t you think this could be the most awesome opening to a major motion picture about the apocalypse? I mean come on? These lines from the Book of Daniel and Mark’s Gospel are begging to be made into a movie about the end of the world! What do you think? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could play St. Michael!! I’m telling you it would be a multi-million dollar blockbuster.
All kidding aside, the second coming of Jesus Christ is something we need to consider. Our faith teaches us that one day, Jesus will return to Earth in all of His glory. He will come to conquer evil once and for all, to judge the world and to save the chosen. As we hear in the parable of the fig tree today, there will be signs suggesting Jesus’ return. But ultimately, it could happen any day at any hour.
Why is this so important? Because we must always be prepared. What happens after our death or after the return of Christ is forever. Our lives will be judged and we will spend eternity with Him in heaven or eternity in Hell without Him.
We need to actually live like we believe this and stop waiting for “tomorrow” to clean up our lives. Stop waiting for “someday” to fix that broken relationship or to mend a past hurt. Let’s stop pretending that the Apocalypse is just some movie that we can watch but then go back to our daily lives as if nothing has changed. Jesus Christ gave us the ultimate gift. He, like so many in those military movies I alluded to, laid down His life for you. To defend your soul from evil. To give you hope at eternity in heaven with His Father. He died for a greater cause.
The problem is, we often treat the parables and teachings of Jesus from Scripture as a movie. It sounds good and it’s fun to hear, but the “warm and fuzzies” wear off soon after… and we return to our daily grind.
But if you can fully embrace and live out the teachings of Jesus Christ, I guarantee you’ll live a life with purpose and meaning. It won’t necessarily take away all of your stresses and worries, but those will only be temporary compared to the joy that awaits us one day in heaven.
But until then… go to the movies… allow yourself to laugh, cry and let your senses be engulfed with the big screen. But after you leave the theater and return to reality, remember that you have a God in heaven waiting to fulfill your hopes and desires more so than any movie can ever do.