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Tribute To Death

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away
Mark 13:24-32

Sermon Topic Mortality

Sermon Week Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 13:31


The doctor who attended King Louis XIV of France was obsessed with hygiene, as well as various theories of longevity, which he applied to himself. For example, when he asked himself the question, "Why do fish live to such a great age?" he theorized that it was because "they are never subject to drafts." Consequently, in order to insulate himself against drafts he spent his days in a sedan chair draped with blankets and lined with rabbits fur. When obliged to go out, he covered himself with a morocco robe and mask, wore six pairs of stockings, and several fur hats. He always kept a bit of garlic in his mouth, incense in his ears and a woody herb sticking out of each nostril. He slept in a kind of brick oven, surrounded by hot water bottles and he ate only sheep's tongues and the syrup of a certain herb. In the year 1678, he died, having lived to the ripe old age of ninety-four.

In this scientific age of ours, we are able to insulate ourselves against a variety of deadly diseases in ways that Louis XIV's doctor never dreamed of. Still, we have this in common with the obsessed doctor: our human mortality. Sooner or later we're all going to die. The earthly pilgrimage of each one of us is coming to an end.

In today's Gospel Lesson, we are forcefully reminded of this reality by Jesus' discourse on the mortality of the Universe: "The sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from the heaven," Jesus says (Mk. 13:24). All things are coming to an end.

Our first reaction to this catastrophic prediction of the endtime may be to interpret these signs symbolically. We tell ourselves that Jesus often used imagery as a teaching device. And that is certainly true. But, we must recognize the danger in trying to reduce Jesus' language to mere word-play. Actually, the language Jesus uses is highly pertinent to our real-life experience . . .

Who among us has not suffered through some experience of [...]

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