The Gospel reading for Sunday, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary time and the penultimate Sunday of the Church’s Year, has us look for the end times.
Jesus said, ‘In those days, after the 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.’
The description of the signs of the end times in Mark – in keeping with the tenor of his Gospel – are dark and threatening, challenging. They are at one with the darkness of the Passion and the testing (to failure) of the faithfulness of the disciples. How will they do next time? How will they do finally?
And the same questions are posed to contemporary readers/hearers of the Gospel ? How will we fare?
We are to look for the signs of the times and judge them according to our experience of Jesus. And whether they are fair or foul we are to know, and know surely, that he is near.
THE date of the ‘final coming’, the last ‘last days’ is unknown but in the events of today we know his coming in joy as the kingdom finds fresh space on earth; or with wrath and judgement for our actions intend its absence, and his absence. But he comes. That is sure.
Sprouting fig leaves, Medjugorje. (c) 2015, Allen Morris