As we approach the close of the liturgical year of the Church, the readings this Sunday speak about the end of time prompting us to consider the “last things” – death, judgment, heaven and hell in the context of our Christian faith.

In the Gospel passage from Saint Mark, Jesus describes to his disciples how the Son of Man will come at the end of time and bring those he has chosen, to eternal life with him in heaven

“they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven”.

The words of Jesus in the Gospel are echoed by the message of the prophet Daniel in the First Reading. In the prophet’s description of the last judgment, the virtuous will be spared and will inherit eternal life,

“the learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity.”

Today’s readings encourage us to renew our profession of faith and live with courage and hope in anticipation of eternal life with Christ who will come again. At Sunday Mass we say in the Creed

“He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his of kingdom will have no end”

and further acclaim the mystery of faith

“When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death Lord Jesus, until you come again.”

Each time we receive the Eucharist we meet Jesus, our saviour and redeemer who shows us the way to eternal life. Jesus gives us life and draws us into a loving encounter with him, so that we in turn can witness to others of his love.

Pope Benedict reflects on this theme in his recent message to young people ahead of the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro:-

“Love is the only thing that can fill hearts and bring people together. God is love. When we forget God, we lose hope and become unable to love others. That is why it is so necessary to testify to God’s presence so that others can experience it. The salvation of humanity depends on this, as well as the salvation of each of us…by his loving sacrifice on the cross, Jesus opened up the way for every man and woman to come to know God and enter into a communion of love with him.”

(cf. Pope Benedict XVI, 18 October 2012)