Though the Skies May Fall
Homily for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Preached on November 14-15, 2009 at Holy Spirit Parish/The Newman Center at the University of Kentucky, Lexington KY
Readings: Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16:5, 8-11; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32
In the small town of Oakey Oaks, Chicken Little rings the school bell and cries for everyone to run for their lives. This sends the whole town in a frenzied panic. Eventually they calm down enough to ask Chicken Little what’s wrong and he exclaims, “The sky is falling! I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears, and part of it fell on my head.” Of course, the “piece of sky” that had fallen on Chicken Little’s head was only an acorn, but he grew so paranoid because of this incident that he got the whole gang all worked up. He told Henny Penny that the sky is falling. Henny Penny ran to tell Ducky Lucky. Ducky Lucky flew to warn Goosey Loosey. Goosey Loosey went to see Turkey Lurkey. “The sky is falling,” they all cried out. “Run for your lives!”
Today’s readings sound like something straight out of the pages of a Chicken Little tale. The sky is falling. The sun and the moon are going dark. The stars are dropping from the sky. The powers in the heavens are being shaken (cf. Mk. 13:24-25). But let’s face it: we have heard warnings about the imminent end of world from all over, not just from Sacred Scripture. There was the Y2K scare at the turn of the millennium. And then we have the prophecies of Nostradamus, movies like 2012, and countdowns to the end of the Mayan calendar. Don’t you see? The world as we know it is coming to an end. There are threats from all sides to the things that we have always been used to. There are climate changes and changes in the Church. The world, our country, our parish is falling apart. And, like Chicken Little, we get fearful of the future. The sky is falling! Our days are numbered. Fend for yourselves!
Yet, Jesus reminds us that when the day or the hour that no one knows does come (cf. Mk. 13:32), “when [we] see these things happening, know that He is near, at the gates” (Mk. 13:29). Even though heaven and earth will pass away, the Lord’s words will not pass away (Mk. 13:31), His words that ring true throughout the ages: “Be not afraid” (Mt. 14:27). “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst” (Mt. 18:20). “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29). “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20).
When fear overwhelms us, when anxiety takes over us, remember the song that we have sung together in this Church: “Though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust yet the love of the Lord shall stand as a shelter for all who will call on His name. Sing the praise and the glory of God” (“Though the mountains may fall” by Daniel L. Schutte, SJ).
Yes, Chicken Little is warning us: the end of the world is near. Look, 2012 is coming. The Mayan calendar is ending. The sky is falling.
And I say: Let it fall. Let the sun and the moon and all the stars go dark. We Christians are no chickens. We are God’s children and even when the sky falls on us, we know that our God already has got us covered.