In every transition, cling to Jesus!

Given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

November is the month of transitions from the last days of "Indian Summer" to days of cooler temperatures and grayer skies; from bright multi-colored foliage to falling leaves and bare tree-limbs; from daylight saving time to standard time; from the ending of fall toward December with its beginning of winter. November also marks a transition liturgically: from the ending of one church year to the following one, specifically for us, from the Sunday Scriptures in Cycle B to those in Cycle C; and from Ordinary Time to Advent.

November also reminds us of yet another transition projected before us in the Scriptures: our individual transition or passing over from this earthly life to the inheritance won for us by the Lord Jesus and promised to every person who clings to Jesus with the obedience of faith, and also that transition at the end of this present age to the new heavens and the new earth sometime in God's providential care for the works of His creation, including His loving care for us created in His image and likeness and redeemed by His Son.

Today's scriptures at Mass clearly remind us of the transition at the end of time, and indirectly, of our own individual transition at human death. In today's gospel account, the Lord Jesus is telling us that when "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," the Son of Man will come in the clouds with great power and glory. Using this vivid imagery, Jesus is telling us that despite any and all transitions, however difficult or anguishing, even at the end of time, He will be with us. We need to remember His promise, His assurance; even more, we need to cling to Jesus! "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." Not only will His words not pass away, but the Lord Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word, thus confirming His presence among us and with us.

So, how do we prepare for transitions, whatever their nature, and for that future transition at the end of our own individual pilgrimage, and at the end of time? How? By clinging to Jesus. As we heard in today's second reading, He is seated at the right hand of God, His Father and ours, there interceding for us as we travel through this earthly life to our union with Him. He is interceding so that every grace we need will be ours. But we must open our hearts to Him, so that He can truly enter them, bringing us the strength so necessary in every transition we experience.

Remember that in Jesus' own sufferings and death, in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the way to Calvary and on the Cross, Jesus clung to His Father despite the darkness's deepest anguish and agony. What He did then, we must likewise imitate, in every difficulty, in every trial, in every temptation, in every transition, including the final one. Yes, cling to Jesus! With Him at our side, we will be inwardly secure!

How do we cling to Jesus? We cling to Him by opening our hearts every day in what we call "prayer," that experience of being with Him, listening to His Word and responding with love. Given our hectic schedules, we may not have time to pray for long periods; of course, when and if we can, what a privilege! But even shorter periods of being with Jesus are life-giving! We cling to Jesus at least weekly when on a Saturday evening or Sunday, we take part in the celebration of His Eucharistic Sacrifice and receive Him in Holy Communion. We cling to Jesus when on a regular basis, we encounter Him in the Sacrament of Penance where His mercy embraces us, forgiving us, healing us, and setting us free. We cling to Jesus when we reach out to those in need, whatever their specific need; so often they are close to us, not always far away. For example, offering a kind word, a welcoming sincere smile, an offer to assist, plus being patient and forgiving.

Yes, we must cultivate an attitude of sensitive awareness to the presence of Jesus as He comes to us in so many differing ways. We need to cling to Him as tightly as we can.

Permit me to share with you these inspiring and encouraging words from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, "May our heart be able to say to God each day: You are my refuge and my shield; I hope in your word (Ps 119:114), and like Saint Peter, may we entrust ourselves in our daily actions to the Lord Jesus: At your word I will let down the nets (Lk 5:5)" (cf. The Magnificat, November 2015 issue, p. 196).

I conclude: Cling to Jesus! Stay with Him. With Him, every transition is doable and ultimately successful, not only in November but always, including that final one in our earthly pilgrimage!

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015