The Gospel: Mark 13:24-32
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.
“But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
After the Gospel:
I don’t remember the name of the movie, just the part where their mother is over in the corner of the log cabin, she’s been on her deathbed for awhile, in and out of coherency, with her three sons standing around, helpless.
Suddenly, the old woman bolts to consciousness, sits upright in bed without help, no suggestion of pain, stares up at some distant point, and utters her last words: “I never knew He was so beautiful!’
It was her appointed day.
There was the Son of Man coming for her in clouds with great power and glory.
Only she could see the angels and hear the trumpet blast,
see Him standing there in light brighter than the sun.
The only words she could think of: “I never knew He was so beautiful.”
That was the day the Son of Man came with his angels,
and suddenly for her, it was the end of all things created and the beginning of something new.
Brothers and sisters, we’re approaching the end of 2021.
Nature is dead. Fallen leaves rustle under out feet.
Next Sunday marks the end of our liturgical year, so our readings today focus on one aspect of Jesus’ teaching: The Last Day, when He will come in all his power and glory, and the heavens and the earth we know will pass away.
How often do we wonder what it will be like for us at the end of this life, when Jesus returns?
Is the end at hand now, or not … how will it happen?
AND … most important… Is there really something to come after this world?
Hollywood can produce any number of Dooms Day scenarios, they’re all blockbusters.
People get fixated, led astray, trying to interpret “the signs of the end times,” trying to be scientific, to predict and prophesy the imminent end of the world.
Sometimes they say, “The time of Jesus’ coming can’t be known, so we don’t have to think much about it.” But our Gospel draws the opposite conclusion: since the timing is unknown, we should think about it all the time!
Some people believe, “The unknown time could be hundreds, or thousands, or a million years from now. Not in my lifetime.” Mark, however, draws a very different conclusion: since the timing is unknown, it could be today! Maybe this evening, or at midnight, or when dawn breaks.
But it will be in our lifetime! For each of us, there will be a Last Day.
We’re all caught in between how the Bible describes the Apocalypse,
and that last verse from today’s Gospel: “about that day or hour no one knows…but only the Father.”
For Bro Frank, it was the Feast of St Joseph, March 19.
For Bro Chrysostom, it was Labor Day, September 6.
Each of us will have our own Last Day. some sooner, some later.
Christ’s words are not to frighten us but to challenge our complacency, convince us to be vigilant, to be prepared. The day of his coming will be a day of joy rather than fear, it’ll bring salvation and a new life. But we can’t be caught unawares when that mysterious day comes. As Pope Francis told reporters during his recent hospitalization: “My bags are packed. I’m ready to go.”
Our Creed states what we believe: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Today’s Gospel clearly wants that belief to be part of the way we live our daily lives.
His “second coming” shouldn’t be simply a doctrine we officially subscribe to on Sundays, it has to be a reality that impacts our faith and the way we live.
But does anyone actually think that way? Does anyone go through every day, wondering morning, noon, and night if now is the time that someone long gone might return?
Well, people in love do that. They wait.
With joyful expectation, one lover waits for the other.
Which is the best context for explaining what Mark intends with his little apocalypse description. Elsewhere in the Gospel, Mark compares the time of awaiting Jesus’ Second Coming to the newlywed waiting for the return of her “bridegroom” who has been unexplainedly delayed… there she is, faithfully waiting in love. (Mark 2:20).
When are you coming, Lord? When!? For the past two millennia, Christians have looked to the future and asked, “When, Lord, when?”
Jesus had one answer: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”.
In every Mass, we work to keep the invisible world visible, right in front of us.
Christ is with us, not with us as he once was, and not with us as he will be!
But He is here giving us love, giving us something in life that cannot pass away: His pledge of life eternal.
Today, starting with the Creed, listen for the times,
count the number of times we pray for the Lord’s Coming again …
No, it’s not unexpected.
May our only surprise be as we say: “I never knew He was so beautiful!’