Living in Two Worlds

Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from

When I thought about today’s readings, I was struck by the whole concept of time.  Revelations is talking about the final judgment and end times.  Jesus in the Gospel is telling his apostles about a future time when their beloved Temple will be destroyed and also refers to end times.  But, more importantly, he’s telling them to embrace a life of discipleship now and not be misled by false teachers and prophets.

The readings made me remember my visit Greenwich, England, home of the Prime meridian.  This Greenwich Meridian separates east from west in the same way that the Equator separates north from south. It literally sits at the center of our system of time zones and is the place where world time is set, down to the milli-second. I actually stood over the line where East meets West, having one foot in the East and one foot in the West!

I think having a foot in two different time zones is a lot like being a disciple; in a real sense we’re living as citizens of two worlds.  We’ve got one foot pointed in the direction of our true home in heaven, but the other foot is firmly planted on earthly soil.  In other words, we have a dual citizenship with Jesus as the head of both worlds.  God wants us to be actively engaged here on earth.  God wants us to spread the gospel of the kingdom and to work for justice and peace in this world.  But we must also keep that other foot focused on the next world and be ready when our time comes.

The example of the martyrs we remember today inspire us because they lived as dedicated disciples with a focus on eternal life. We honor St. Andrew Dung-Lac, a Vietnamese priest, and 116 other martyrs, although there were probably over 100,000 Vietnamese women and men who were brutally tortured and executed between 1625 – 1886 for refusing to deny their faith to their anti-religious government.  They did not, however, let their fear paralyze them. They died living an active faith life that worked for justice in the here and now, knowing that the kingdom of God starts in the present.

For us, this last week in our liturgical year is a bit like having our feet in 2 places.  We’re completing a whole liturgical year which culminated in last weekend’s Feast of Christ the King.  And now we’re looking forward to Advent next Sunday and the beginning of another liturgical year.  It’s an in-between week, with feet in both worlds, and a wonderful occasion to reflect on what has been, and make some concrete, spiritual resolutions for Advent.

And right in the middle is the celebration of Thanksgiving – an attitude we should always have as we live in our 2 worlds – gratitude to Almighty God for all that we’ve been given here, and thanks for our eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.

For the witness of St. Andrew and the Vietnamese martyrs who rejoice in heaven today, we give thanks.  For the witness of Vivienne and Bob McKinney today who will continue to live their call to discipleship with us on earth in the Catholic Church, we give thanks.