Thursday, 11 November 2021 10:15

When the Son of Man appears

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33OTBWeb400Jesus said to his disciples: ‘In those days, after that time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven 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; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.

‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father. (Mk 13:24-32)

 

With the approach next Sunday of the Feast of Christ the King and the end of the Liturgical Year, our readings this Sunday take on an ‘end times’ feel.

In the Gospel Mark presents a vision of the full establishment of the Kingdom and the coming of Christ as the final proof of God’s victory. The language is necessarily that of symbol and myth as it describes something yet to come, not an historical reality. But this does not mean that it has no relationship with reality.

The vision is set against the background of a time of distress. Early Christian communities, like Mark’s, certainly endured much distress through persecution and suffering and their struggles to follow the teachings of Jesus.

The coming in glory of the risen Jesus together with the great gathering of his people from every corner of the earth, were meant as reassurance to a weary and frightened community of believers.

They have followed the way of discipleship, sharing in Jesus’ suffering, some to the point of death. One day the final victory will be God’s and they will enter with Jesus into the fullness of the Kingdom.

In the meantime, however, disciples have to learn to read the signs of the presence of Jesus in everyday life. Jesus is not sitting passively at God’s right hand. Through the Holy Spirit he continues to be actively present in the hearts and lives of believers, and in the universe.

Neither are the disciples to wait passively for the final coming. We wait in patient hope, but not in idleness, because the ministry of making Christ present in every thought, word and action, and every moment of history, continues.

The Gospel ends on a note of uncertain certainty: Christ will come, but we don’t know when.

Read our Celebrating At Home liturgy for today.

pdf Celebrating At Home 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time [PDF] (2.17 MB)
default Celebrating At Home 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time [ePub] (2.27 MB)

 

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