First Reading
Daniel 12:1-3

In those days, I, Daniel, heard this word of the Lord: “At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”

Second Reading
Hebrews 10:11-14, 18

Brothers and sisters: Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.

Gospel Cycle Cycle B
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 of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The first reading and the Gospel today show us clearly that we are coming to the end of the Church year and beginning to meditate once again on the end of the world as we know it. It is interest that when we speak of the “end of the world,” that phrase can have two meanings. It can mean “the end” like “the end” of a movie or it can mean “the end” meaning the purpose for which the world was made. In some strange way, today in these readings we can understand both of these meanings.

The world as we know it will come to an end some day. Even scientifically this is true, although it could be millions of years in the future. Of course, if we humans continue on our roads of self-destruction and development of weapons of mass destruction, the world as we know it might end earlier.

We simply don’t know when or how the world will end. But we do know for what end it was created: to give glory to God. These days at the end of Ordinary Time keep our hearts and minds focused on these great realities: that the world will end and that the end for which it was created will be accomplished.

For many who follow the Lord Jesus, today’s reading can sound scary and alarming. But that should only be so. If we are committed to the Lord Jesus, then we must trust in Him entirely. Our lives, our future, and present—all is in His hands and we must trust Him.

At a very practical level, today’s readings invite us to meditate on the end of the world and on our own death. This is not some meditation that is supposed to make us sad or frightened or upset, but as a means of reminding us that everything in this world comes to an end. We will die. Perhaps we will die older that the previous generation, perhaps we can find ways to prolong life for many more years. But up until today, every human dies. So we must learn to look death in the eye, to think about death and what it means.

So these last Sundays of Ordinary Time and the first Sundays of Advent are a time for us to think deeply, to feel the presence of God, to reflect on how we are living and to ask God to give us the strength to live faithfully with Him no matter what happens. It is truly a matter of believing in Jesus as the Savior and putting all our trust in Him.