Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Revelation 14:14-19; Luke 21:5-11)
Death is often personified as a grim reaper. Sickle in hand the reaper cuts down living plants. The harvest is then either eaten and enjoyed or burnt as fuel. Similarly human death ends in a judgment of either worthiness or worthlessness. One is either destined for glory with God or for desolation. Today’s first reading illustrates death seizing the entire world.
The first character mentioned seems to be Jesus Christ who refers to himself as “son of man” in the gospel. In any case he swings the sickle of death over a bountiful and useful grain harvest. The produce will be stored in barns for human consumption. This is the people who pleased God and are destined to glory with Him. The second reaper cuts down the vine yielding grapes which will be pressed into wine. The stern seer John perceives wine as an intoxicant which turns humans into mindless animals. This produce then constitutes those people who are lost for eternity.
As fall gives way to winter weather, in northern climes at least, we are wise to consider death. Sooner or later it will reach us. Although an evil in that it snuffs out physical life, death serves a useful purpose. It reminds us that we do not have forever to fulfill our destinies as human beings. For Christians this means that we strive to be truly loving people. We are to give of ourselves for the good of others. In this way when death finally comes we will be gathered into God’s house as His beloved family.