34th Ordinary Week – Saturday

Luke 21:34-36

Exhortation to be Vigilant



C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, contains 31 letters from Screwtape, a senior devil to his nephew, Wormwood. The Screwtape Letters contain friendly advice from a senior to a junior demon and front-line tempter on how to procure the soul of his “patient,” a young Christian man just trying to live out his everyday life. It is evil in our everyday lives that Screwtape addresses, petty evils that add up in the end to the degradation of our morality, the demise of our individuality and the utter death of our souls. In the end we find that the battle between good and evil is fought out on the field of our relationships with others and most of all our relationship with God.

Today’s gospel reminds me of this book and the need to be vigilant for the nature of evil is very real in our ordinary daily living. The evil one creeps into our drowsy hearts not by sudden fall into mortal sin, away from goodness and toward evil on a grand scale, but by the routine and undramatic temptations of daily life. This mostly involves disturbing the peace, creating doubts and confusion, “muddying in the waters” by not allowing the “patient” to clearly see the truth. However, evil can be overcome by vigilance, discernment, faithfulness, patience, self-control, determination and faith.

Our world today is characterized by a “rapid process of globalization, aggressive commercialization of all aspects of human life and the bankshment of faith from the horizon of human knowledge.” It may not be a consoling thought to imagine the image of Screwtape or Wormwood behind us and waiting to tempt us everyday, but it is good to be aware that the devil spirit awaits every opportunity. On the other hand, it will console our hearts to trust in the Spirit of God who dwells in our hearts and stay with us every moment “until the end of time,” if we open up and allow grace to penetrate our being. (Eft, SSpS Bible Diary 2004)


There are two main conceptions here. One is the conception of the second coming of Jesus Christ. There has always been much vain and useless argument and speculation about the second coming. When it will be, and it will be like, are not hours to know. But one great truth which it enshrines is this – the history is going somewhere. Speculations about the end regard history as circular. They hold that every three thousand years or so history repeats itself. That means that history is going nowhere, and that men are trampling round on a kind of eternal treadmill. The Christian conception of history is that it has a goal and, in that goal, Jesus Christ will be Lord of all. That is all we know and all we need to know.

The second conception is the need to be on the watch. The Christian must never come to think that He is living in a permanent situation. He must be a man who lives in a permanent state of expectation. A novelist, in one of her books, has a character who will not stoop to certain things that others do. “I know,” she said, “that someday the great thing will come into my life, and I want to keep myself fit to take it.” We must live always in the shadow of eternity, making ourselves fit to appear in the presence of God. There can be nothing so thrilling as the Christian life. (Fr. Alfredo Reyes, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


There is nothing more certain in this world than death. Death is our common fate. But, likewise, there is nothing more certain in this world than death. It is true we know that we will most surely die one day but as to when exactly and how we will die, we do not know. All we know is that death will come “like a thief in the night,” so sudden and so unexpected; that is why Jesus’ advice in the gospel today is that we should always be ready and prepared.

One of the most unnerving and most shocking feeling and experience you can have is that you are just talking and joking with a person one minute and next minute he suffers a stroke and dies. You become numb and you could hardly believe what happened. He was just so alive and kicking a few moments ago and now he is gone forever. Yes, that is how fast and how sudden death can be. I have heard many advices and many suggestions on how to prepare and how to be ready for the trumpet call of the Lord. But I think, so far, the best advice I got is this, “If you want to be ready and to be prepared for a good death, live a good life. For as you live, so you shall die.” (Fr. teng dela Cruz, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


Mozart writes to his father: “As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling! And I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is they key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.”

The gospel contains a reminder that one day we will have to give an account of our lives. The final day should not catch us by surprise. Living our lives, being aware that we have to return what has been given to us as a gift, will have a big impact. We may follow the advice of today’s gospel, namely, not to “become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life…” We might realize that our life is a true gift that we have to return at any time it is asked of us. This does not necessarily have to make us sad and gloomy but may lead to a very authentic life spending our limited time wisely in the service of God. (Fr. Heinz Kulucke, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


The Liturgical year is about to end. The Season of Advent is near. Thus, we find the readings this week pointing to the end-time. Jesus exhorts us to be vigilant with hope.

Were a scientist to warn us that an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale is fast approaching, we would take every precautionary measure imaginable. Yet, unhappily, the Master’s prediction that He shall return does not move us to make even accidental changes in our lives.

“Beware! or “Be vigilant!” is a clarion warning. It means many different things – to grab the opportunities of the present moment, not to waste time, to prepare for Christ’s coming, to prepare for death and more importantly prepare for the Kingdom of God whenever it explodes into our life. In Jesus’ day, and it seizes us, impels us, embraces us, challenges us to look for God’s presents in events and in the persons we meet.

“Beware! “Be vigilant!” life is too short. We may not pass this way again. Death is certain. The Lord is coming! “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice. But for those who love, time is not.” (Fr. Sammy Clarin, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


I once heard a story of a pious, elderly priest who was giving a retreat to a group of fellow priests. When speaking about perseverance in the gift of celibacy, he told them in a humorous way: “I used to think that when I reached the age of seventy I would be safe. Now that I am some years past the age of seventy I realize that I will never be safe!”

I’m sure that the good priest was not suggesting that celibacy was simply a burden. Rather he wanted to point out that that it was a gift of God that should never be taken for granted. To persevere, one had to nourish his relationship with God through prayer and to be on guard against attitudes and lifestyles that could lead to infidelity. This is the task of a lifetime.

Today is the last of the liturgical year, our year of faith. The first reading gives us a vision of the ultimate victory of God over all earthly powers: “All dominions shall serve and obey him.” But that is for the future. The gospel brings us back to earth, where we still have to live our lives. It is a reminder to Christians like us that the triumphant coming of the Son of Man has not yet taken place nor do we know when it will happen. In other words, the story of our lives is not yet over. We still need prayer and vigilance so as not to be trapped in the cares of daily living. “We are still not safe,” to use the words of the old priest.

For example, it is sad to hear the couples who have separated after many years of marriage, even after having celebrated twenty five or forty years of married life together. What went wrong? We cannot judge them, but what happens to them may serve as a reminder to us of the Lord’s warning to be vigilant.  We have only to look into our own hearts to see where we have already failed and how even worse could happen if we become complacent in our lives and forget our need for God’s help.

But let us not end the year on a note of worry or fear. God does not want us to fail.  Life is not over yet, with God’s help and with vigilance on our part, we have every reason to hope that the best is yet to come. (Fr. John O’Mahony, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


Who would have known beforehand that an earthquake with intensity 7.2 would “rock” and devastate Bohol and Cebu? Or, who would have known earlier that a killer-typhoon called Yolanda (Haiyan) would bring indescribable destruction to Tacloban and nearby towns? These catastrophes of last year were not expected, much less awaited, in these places of the Philippines.

A subsequent question, motivated by the gospel today, is: Who would know beforehand when the Son of Man is coming? Jesus, the Son of Man Himself, exhorts his listeners, “Keep awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Mt. 24:42) Our Lord wants us not to be caught off-guard by His return.  He warns us against indulging in earthly pleasures that usually divert our attention or dull our sensitivity while keeping watch for His unexpected coming. His coming might be at the hour of our death, at the end-time, at the Parousia, His Second Coming. He warns us from worrying or being caught up with things of this passing life, thus forgetting the eternal life we are destined for. The expression “Will this redound to my salvation?” might help us ponder when we are engrossed with things of this world such as honor, prestige and wealth, among others. it is best to take to heart the scripture verse,: “What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Mt. 16:26), and then remain vigilant and ready for the Lord’s coming.

Our Lord emphasizes the importance of prayer, of constantly connecting ourselves with our Source, the Divine Being. We are to deepen in our hearts the awareness of God’s presence in us, to keep ourselves attuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and to strive to be always vigilant, to be always prepared for the Lord’s coming: the day, time and circumstances of which no one knows.

Blessed Mother Helena Stollenwerk, a co-foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS), whose feastday the Congregation celebrates today (November 28, 2015), lived an exemplary life, constant vigilance for the Lord’s coming. She lived a life of prayer and was earnest and true to her motto: “To God the honor, to my neighbor the benefit, and to myself the burden.” May Blessed Ma. Helena pray for us (Sr. Frances Grace, SSpS Bible Diary 2015).


November 26, 2016 Saturday

Kristel Mae Padasas, an aid worker, died after the scaffolding collapsed by the stage where PopeFrancis said mass for disasters survivors in Leyte on Saturday, January 17, 2015. The tragic death of this responsible, simple, humble, sincere, friendly and ever cheerful person practically moved us to tears. Someone commented on Facebook: “ … so sad, but what a meaningful and beautiful death …beautiful because Pope Francis himself prayed for her in a special way!” This very young lady indeed had her life lived at its best, a life lived in service and commitment for humanity. Simply a great and beautiful legacy for this generation.

A life truly lived humbly and committedly for the world, for humanity, and for God, is truly signicant, beautiful, and meaningful. It is a life constantly prepared for whatever may happen on the way, especially for the coming of the Lord. Her life truly exempli edwhat the Gospel for today is telling us: “be prepared at all times, …and to stand secure before the Son of Man (Lk. 21: 36).” In living the Gospel values and constantly communicating with God, as Kristel had shown, undoubtedly, we grow profoundly in our spiritual life. When death comes, and everything is taken away from us, we will fear nothing, even death, knowing that our whole lives have been spent with God, and that we are going home to be with Him forever. (Fr. Eliseo Yyance, SVD | DWC of San Jose, Occ. Mindoro Bible Diary 2016)



December 1, 2012

St. Eligius
Saturday of the 34th Week

Rv 22:1-7
Ps 95
Lk 21:34-36

Lk 21:34-36
Exhortation To Be Vigilant 

[Jesus said to his disciples,] 34“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise 35like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. 36Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”


Be vigilant at all times. Jesus’ exhortation to vigilance is a call to sobriety. Moderation is echoed elsewhere in Scriptures: “Consort not with winebibbers, nor with those who eat meat to excess; for the drunkard and the glutton come to poverty” (Prv 23:20-21). “Priest and prophet stagger from strong drink, overpowered by wine; led astray by strong drink, staggering in their visions, tottering when giving judgment” (Is 28:7). “Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness” (Rom 13:13).

The appeal to be always vigilant is also a call to prayer. In prayer we direct our hearts to Jesus and focus our minds to heaven so that our hearts do not become drowsy. Prayer makes us stay awake and wait with hope and perseverance to stand before the Son of Man.

What does being vigilant at all times mean to you?



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Reflection for November 28, Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time: Luke 21:34-36

Reflection: What is the best protection against the uncertainties and anxieties of this world?  Our best protection is our connection with Jesus. Connection that will cost us nothing except a little of our time. We connect with Jesus when we pray, we talk and establish contact with Him through our fervent prayer life.

What does prayer do to us? It gives us inner peace. We are always calm amidst the struggles and complexities of daily life. Active prayer life prepares us for whatever eventualities that life may bring us.

Calamities, unforeseen disasters and the threat of wars happen every now and then and often times it catch us unexpectedly and it disturbs us. But if we are always prepared spiritually we would somehow learn to cope with it emotionally and we would still be calm.

The world that we are in right now is so uncertain we don’t know what may happen next. The threat of war and terrorism in many parts of the world is real and it’s happening. We therefore have to pray for peace and ask Jesus to make our world more peaceful.

In the gospel for today Jesus told the disciples: “Pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).” – Marino J. Dasmarinas



Thursday, November 24, 2016

SATURDAY OF THE 34TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME – LUKAS 21:34-36. KAMATAYON – ANGAY BA KINING TALIKDAN O PANGANDAMAN? Daghang mga tawo mahadlok mamatay ug dili ganahan maghunahuna sa kataposan sa ilang kinabuhi. Lingawon nila ang ilang kaugalingon pinaagi sa mga kalibotanong butang ug kalihokan. Tungod niini, muabot kanila ang kamatayon nga dili sila andam. Si Hesus nagpahimangno: “Ayaw kamo’g patuyang sa pagkaon ug pag-inum sa makahubog nga ilimnon, ug ayaw kamo padaog sa mga kabalaka mahitungod ning kinabuhi-a, kay tingali unya’g hikalitan kamo niadtong adlawa.” Kining ebanghelyo magdasig kanato sa pagpuyo og moral nga kinabuhi, nga adunay panglantaw sa kinabuhing dayon nga nagpaabot human ning kinabuhia. Si Leonardo da Vinci nag-ingon: “As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.” Posted by Abet Uy



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Reflection for Saturday November 26, Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time; Luke 21:34-36

Do you easily yield to temptations?

We are always vulnerable to the many temptations of this world. The temptation of the flesh, the temptation of money and many more secular temptations that will take us away little by little from God’s loving embrace.

What is the cure to these many temptations? We must always be connected with God by having an active relationship with Him. Active relationship means that we attend the Celebration of the Holy Mass, we read the scriptures and we translate this to a faith that is lived daily. This is the only way for us to avoid the many temptations of this secular world.

But majority of us do not take this seriously for we love the trappings of this world more than the intimacy that God constantly offers us.  Thus, we often times give-up the faith based values that was taught to us by the church.

After our life on this world comes to a close we will stand before God and He will ask us if we’ve been faithful to Him. Many of us will not be able to speak before God for we’ve failed Him. Let us not wait for the fearful day to happen. While there is still time let us mend our ways and tread the correct path that God is offering us.

Let us always bear in mind that there will be a day of reckoning which will happen anytime. – Marino J. Dasmarinas



BE WATCHFUL AT ALL TIMES – Jesus exhorts His followers to be watchful at all times against the temptations of sin and anything else that will distract them from their faith in God. We cannot be disciples of Jesus if we are constantly attached to the things of the world. Jesus reminds us that to be a member of the Kingdom of God means that we have to let go of our earthly attractions. It is His Kingdom in heaven that is our guiding light now, and while we may still enjoy some earthly pleasure, they are no longer our priority. We live under the grace of the Holy Spirit, making heaven our focus.

To be a disciple is not easy. Pope Francis has called on the Church to a missionary discipleship. We do not follow God in order to grow in holiness. Growth in holiness is a direct result of living the life of a missionary disciple. The focus of a Christian’s life is not solely his own salvation, but living out the gift of salvation in an evangelical manner. If we live as missionary disciples, we will grow in holiness and closeness to God as a consequence of our lifestyle.

Pope Francis is in the process of ushering a revolution into the Church’s self-perception. The focus should not be one’s personal perfection and holiness but that of the Church. The Church has to be like a military hospital tending to the wounded and diseased of society. Missionary discipleship is about getting our feet wet and our hands dirty in ensuring the values of the Gospel are incarnated in the world. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: When did you last visit a poor person in his home? How much contact do you have with the poor in their environment?

Holy Spirit, help me to welcome the opportunity to reach out to You in the lives of the poor and the forgotten persons of today’s society. Help me to grow in empathy and compassion. Amen.



Saturday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time

Rev 22: 1-7; Lk 21: 34-36

Vigilant Waiting

Once upon a time there was an old monk who became the abbot of a monastery. One day a young monk came to question him about his life. He asked, “In all these years of prayer and discipline, of fasting and penance, have you become enlightened and holy?”  The old abbot broke into laughter saying, no I have not become all that holy and regarding enlightenment I don’t know.  Then the young monk was serious and asked again, then why do you waste your life here? Have you learned nothing in all these years?  Then the old monk answered, well! Yes, I have learned one thing in life: I need to be watchful always. I never know when God is going to come and visit me.  Therefore, I live everyday as the last day of my life.” This is what Jesus expects from each one of us. Be vigilant and fully awake. We should be like the servant who is awaiting the Master’s return from a journey. We are sure of his coming, but we do not know what day or hour. However, waiting does not mean that we have to give up all our work. Rather, being vigilant at all times means attending responsively to our work, but with a certain tension because we know the Master can come at any time.

Jesus cautions us as we are waiting for the last days; let your hearts not be weighed down with worries of this life. The worries and tensions occur because we focus on ourselves rather than on God. Jesus tells us, â€œDo not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body, what you will wear” (Mt 6:25) But â€œstrive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33). In other words, Christ tells us to focus on God through constant prayers so that we will have the strength to withstand all the struggles of the end days.  What we need is not mere verbal prayers but prayerfulness. It is to live consciously with God day in and day out. We must make the universal presence of God a reality for us personally by becoming aware of the same presence. Just as He is uninterruptedly aware of us, so we also should be continuously aware of His. Otherwise His presence would mean nothing to us. Gandhiji said: “I can live without food and drink for some days. But I can’t live even for day without prayer. For just as birds need air to fly and fish water, so we need God for sustaining the life.”

To pray constantly we need to set aside a few minutes every day for personal prayer; pray listening to him and telling God anything that is on your mind; pray as you go about the business of the day, as you travel, as you drive or at your desk in the office; focus on God’s blessings in your prayer and thank Him; always express willingness to accept His will; ask for what you want, but be willing to take what God gives you; practice putting yourself totally in God’s hands; and pray for people you do not like because resentment is number one blockade for spiritual power. In other words, if we prayerize our daily life, we can find the invisible God in the most visible and material things. With such awareness if we live every day, then we can stand before the Son of Man confidently on the final day. Dr. Davis Varayilan CMI



November 26, 2016

Every now and then some wild-eyed pseudo-prophet announces the end of the world either in the very near future or on a specific date. This happens so often (practically once a year worldwide), that very few people, apart from some unbalanced minds, take these prophecies seriously. We know, of course, that our planet Earth will eventually be destroyed by a passing meteor or the freezing of the Sun or some other phenomenon. But by then we might have moved to another solar system. So, in practical terms the prospect of an end of the world is pretty worthless if we want to use it, for example, as a motive to reform our lives.

Yet, the warning of Jesus in today’s gospel reading, “Be on your guard,” is still quite relevant, independently of the prospect of a near end of the world. Why? Because we will die sooner or later, some of us quite sooner than we expect. Which means that the end of our world can happen at any time: heart attack, car accident, terrorist bomb, earthquake or other natural disaster.

Because of that, should we not heed Jesus’ warning and be prepared to meet our Maker at any moment?



See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Saturday of the 34th Week of the Year

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