Sunday Message
Mark 13: 24-32

Nearly at the end-in more ways than one!

In this, our last extract from the Gospel according to Mark in this Year B, we find Jesus and his disciples on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem from the east.

This site is associated with the arrival of “the Day of the Lord”, a term which we find in the context of the events surrounding the coming of the Lord – in Christian thought, the second coming of Christ in glory. The figure of the Son of Man, associated with final judgement, is one which comes from the book of Daniel, an example of apocalyptic writing from the Hebrew Bible. Mark’s narrative about Jesus begins with his preaching that “the kingdom of God is close at hand”: here we have a vision of the arrival of that kingdom in its fullness with all the earthly and cosmic signs which will accompany it. The “Son of Man” depicted here is Jesus and the clouds are a symbol of the divine presence.
This is the final, universal revealing of the kingdom, which Jesus has been proclaiming through his preaching and acts of power. The indication of the fig tree, an unusually seasonal plant in that area of evergreens, indicates springtime, Passover, and hints at the forthcoming events of Holy Week.

Mark counsels his community – and later readers – against being carried away with apocalyptic enthusiasm: they may well see signs similar to those which Jesus mentions, but they should keep in mind that only the Father knows when the kingdom will finally arrive.

SAY

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord’s Prayer; see Matthew 6:10

Previous Sunday Messages

REFLECT

Each time we recite the Lord’s Prayer, we say “Thy kingdom come”. It may be that we are not really praying for the final revealing of the kingdom – at least, not in our lifetime. We might even use a version of the prayer of St Augustine: “Thy kingdom come – but not just yet!”

We find this tension in the Gospels, between the partial coming of God’s will for human beings (the “already”) and the final establishing of the covenant union between God and God’s people (the “not yet”).

Apocalyptic writing arose in a situation of persecution: the book of Daniel at a time when there was an attempt to impose pagan, Greek culture on the Jewish people; the book of Revelation (or the Apocalypse) during the Roman persecution of Christians. It looks forward to a time when God will (eventually) intervene to rescue those who have remained faithful through times of suffering. There are situations in the world today where these scriptures are particularly relevant.

One lesson that apocalyptic writing teaches us is that the kingdom is a gift. Being redeemed is a free gift, according to the apostle Paul: it may be that we have to co operate in being saved, but in the end, it is a question of grace rather than merit. Sometimes we may think that if only we hit upon the right pastoral strategy or catechetical
programme, all our problems as a parish or Church will be solved. Perhaps we might look to see where the kingdom is growing already and help to nurture it.

learn

  • Apocalyptic writing arose in situations of persecution.
  • The title “Son of Man” comes from the book of Daniel: when used of Jesus, it suggests either judgement or the passion.
  • The fig tree indicates the seasons through its leaves and producing fruit, unlike many trees in the land of Israel, which are evergreens.

do

As you celebrate the Eucharist, remember that it is the work of our redemption: keep that in mind as you go about your daily life during the week.

Leave a Reply