33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): The Proper Order
(Adults, the Gospel for this Sunday could be a little upsetting for your child(ren). It is certainly thought-provoking for adults! It might be good simply to read the reflection with the child(ren), rather than reading the entire Gospel passage first.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus and his friends are sitting on the Mount of Olives. There is a peaceful garden here, with beautiful fig trees. This is the place where Jesus prays before he dies on the cross and rises to new life, never to die again. But the disciples are getting worried. Jesus keeps talked about dying and rising, and they do not understand. They still think that death is the end. Life. Death. That is the order they know. No more. They do not like talk about dying because they love Jesus and they want him to be with them always.
Jesus tells them what it will seem like when he dies:
“...the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
A dark sun? No light from the moon? No stars in the night sky? What is Jesus talking about? Everything out of its place. Everything not in its proper order. The disciples do not like this. We do not like this either. Maybe Jesus should stop talking.
Jesus sees that they are upset. He looks around at the garden and points to one of the beautiful fig trees. He tells them a parable. Parables are good. They help us understand.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.
Every year in the winter, leaves on the trees die. All the branches become grey. They look as if they have no life in them. But every year, almost without us noticing, new leaves begin to grow. The death of winter is not the end. New life begins. The new leaves show us that summer is near, the time of ripe fruit that we can eat. We bite into the delicious fruit and the juice runs down our chins. We are filled with joy.
The fig tree shows us the true order. Life. Death. Then more and more Life. And oh, so much Joy.
Jesus tells the disciples,
So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near
When things are not in their proper order, when everything is out of its place, it is not the end. New life is coming. Joy is coming. Because who is near?
A dark sun. No light from the moon. No stars in the night sky. What is Jesus reminding them about? Jesus has already told them:
Do we need light from the sun and moon and stars, if we have Jesus?
Jesus is the Light of the World.
When a friend of mine—a girl, two-and-a-half years old—hears this, she says, "I hear the angels say, 'Do not be afraid.'" Why? Why do we not have to be afraid? Jesus tells us,
he is near
The disciples will know this soon, after the cross, when Jesus rises to new life, never to die again. They will know the proper order. We do not need to be afraid when things seem out of order, because Jesus is our Light, the Light that will never go out, and he is near.