Our lives are in rehearsal for Christ's second coming

Tom Bartolomeo
32nd Sunday Ordinary B 2012
Kings 17: 10-16; Psalm 146;
Hebrews 9; 24-28; Mark 12: 38-44
Reproduced with Permission

We've heard three Scripture readings, one from the Book of Kings, the second from the Letter to the Hebrews and the third from Gospel according the Mark. Putting together all the actors in the three readings - the prophet Elijah, two poor widows, scribe lawyers and the rich, and finally Jesus Christ - we have all the essential actors of our continuing story of salvation.

This ongoing drama, one way or another, will include all of us here on closing night, the final curtain of the play, when we, the living and deceased players of the world, will assemble for the last judgment before Jesus Christ when he will say to some, "Come, oh blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" and to others "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil", Matthew 25, 34-41. The final curtain call will have fulfilled the prophesy we heard earlier that "human beings die once . . . [as] Christ offered once [his life] to take away the sins of many . . . [and] bring salvation to those who eagerly await him." Salvation will be reserved for "those who eagerly await him", those who consciously and purposefully wait for him.

So in this drama which I have described leading to the final judgment which role will you audition for: prophet, one of the poor widows, scribe lawyer, the wealthy or Jesus Christ, himself? How do you propose to prepare for your role? (As an aside, many years ago I auditioned for a part in the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, and was fortunately cast in the role of Philip, an Apostle.) But back to our auditions. Before you read and audition for a part in the drama you will have to be interviewed by the director and judge of the play. "Where have you performed before, and who directed you? What part are you auditioning for?" How have you prepared yourself for the role you've chosen?

"Hello. I'm the director of the play with my two assistants. I have your vitae, but tell me in your own words where you have performed before and why are you here?"

"Ok. So how did you prepare yourself for the part of the widow who meets the prophet, Elijah? What will you bring to the character of the widow in her circumstances?"

"I imagined that she and her deceased husband were happily married only a short time when he unfortunately and suddenly died in some accident. They barely eked out a living, and when the drought came she was more prepared than most for her ordeal and took each day's events as they came. She had her small son to comfort her who reminded her of her loving husband. Alone with her son she innately recognized Elijah as a man of God and was grateful to share what little she had with God's messenger although she knew that their lives were in the jeopardy."

"Good. Here's the script. Read the marked lines. Let me know when you're ready." "Very good. We'll give you a call-back. See my assistant. He will take your number. Thanks for coming."

"Hello. Who are you? Tell me about yourself. What role are you auditioning for? The scribe lawyer? What do you know about law? Now you know that you will have some issues with the Christ. How will you handle these, convincingly?"

"Honestly, it will be difficult both admiring and envying Jesus at the same time without upstaging him."

"Leave out the envy and go with the admiration. Here's a marked script of you and Jesus speaking. Look it over. When you're ready I'll read the part of Jesus. Ready? Go ahead."

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he'."

"You are not far from the kingdom of God."

"Good. Don't act embarrassed. It's all about the truth. Accept Jesus' authority as you did. Your conflict will now be with the Pharisees later in the play. Leave your number with my assistant for a second call. Thanks for coming."

"Who have we here? Auditioning for the rich man? You're dressed for the part, I see. How are you going to play the role?"

"Like some a self-assured busy man with little sympathy for the poor or time for an itinerant Rabbi."

"Good. In the temple scene be sure to make a large showy donation before the poor widow. No one will notice her except Jesus. It's not a difficult role. Just be aloof and self-assured. This is not a speaking part. Just remain aloof in the scene. Imagine the treasury is stage left. Take this bag of coins there and made a deposit."

"You'll do. You know, don't you, this role is at minimum union scale? Leave your number with my assistant. Thanks for coming."

"Ok. Let's see who's auditioning for Jesus Christ. (I want to see how well the actors carry themselves. We need a Christ with charisma. Have them all line up on stage.)"

"Let's begin with you. What's your name. Ok. Remember, you must appear meek and humble but still project your personal authority with dignity. Anything you would like to add?""I'd add a quiet reserve and strength of character . . . patience, too."

"Ok. Good, good. Here's a marked script of Jesus' dialogue with the scribe lawyer. I hope you do better than me in the reading I had with the lawyer who auditioned before you. Whenever you're ready. Good. Very good. Make sure you leave your number with my assistant."

"Let's call it a day, folks. Check tomorrow's bulletin board for a casting schedule and return calls. Thank you all for coming."

The fictitious cast-call I described was imaginary. The final call and judgment will be real. Jesus calls all of us, would cast all of us in his eternal peace and glory. Our lives are in rehearsal for Christ's second coming. Lord, may we all be ready. For "many are called but few are chosen", Matthew 20, 14. Lord, "help our unbelief."

Summary: Jesus calls all of us, would cast all of us in his eternal peace and glory. Our lives are in rehearsal for Christ's second coming. Lord, may we all be ready. For "many are called but few are chosen". Lord, help our unbelief.