November 27, 2005 - Advent B 1
• 24 "Later on, in those days after that disastrous time, the sun will grow dark, the moon will not give its light, 25 the stars will fall out of the sky and the whole universe will be shaken. 26 Then people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send the angels to gather his chosen people from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.
28 Learn a lesson from the fig tree. As soon as its branches become tender and it begins to sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the time is near, even at the door. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all this has happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
• 32 But, regarding that Day and that Hour, no one knows when it will come, not even the angels, not even the Son, but only the Father.
• 33 Be alert and watch, for you don’t know when the time will come. 34 When a man goes abroad and leaves his home, he puts his servants in charge, giving to each one some responsibility; and he orders the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 So stay awake, for you don’t know when the Lord of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight, when the cock crows or before dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him catch you asleep.
37 And what I say to you, I say to all: watch."
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• 24. Later on… (v. 24). After announcing the end of the Jewish world, Jesus speaks of an even more important event: the end of the world or, better still, its transformation.
The sun will grow dark, the moon will not give its light (v. 24). These are images taken from Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 that express the confusion, the surprise and the disintegration of the people and the universe before the majesty of the Supreme Judge.
He will send the angels. This is also a common image in Jewish books that spoke of God’s judgment. Likewise, the trumpet referred to in Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 should not be understood literally.
Learn a lesson. Jesus comes back to the destruction of Jerusalem.
• 32. In this paragraph, we return to the end of the world. The Day mentioned is the day of the Judgment, called the “Day of Yahweh” in the Prophets (Amos 5:18; Zep 1:15).
No one knows when… Jesus states it clearly. Nevertheless, there have always been people who believe they know what the angels do not. People in every century have foretold the impending end of the world (2 Thes 2).
Not even the angels or the Son, only the Father. Some are confused by this. Does this not mean that Jesus is not God as the Father is? They must remember that when Jesus speaks of the Father and the Son, he speaks of himself with his human consciousness in relation to the Father. God’s infinite knowledge cannot be encompassed by the human mind of Jesus.
God the Father can communicate to Jesus certain prophecies but he cannot tell him, for example: "the end of the world will take place on the 12th of July of the year 1977" because the date is not fixed; it depends on how we make the kingdom of God mature through our efforts and prayers (2 P 3:14).
Modern science shows that time does not pass at the same speed for two persons if one is moving and the other is still; much less equal is the pace of time between God and us. God knows the time as it can be known in eternity, but this does not mean that it corresponds with a certain date in our calendar.
• 33. This is like a summary of the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30) and that of the ten young women (Mt 25:1-13). It warns us that we should wait for the Lord who is at work. The doorman symbolizes those who have positions of responsibility in the Church, who are not the owners of the Church but only hold the keys of the Church.
HOW CHRIST COMES; CHRISTIAN COMMITMENT
In several parts of the Gospel, Jesus invites us to be vigilant while waiting for his arrival. How will he come? How can he come to us if we are meant to die before his coming in glory?
It is true that we will meet the Lord when we die. Nevertheless, Jesus comes to us in several ways while we await him, doing our work and living our lives.
Our work (v. 34). One aspect of our commitment to Christ is our commitment to the Christian community, to our Church. This means our participation in common prayer, in the eucharist, in catechesis and other similar events. As we participate in these commitments there is not only one but several "comings" of Christ. We see his coming in those of our brothers and sisters who are converted; he comes to us giving us strength and wisdom; he comes to us through prayer, giving us the inner certainty of his presence.
He also comes in our day today living. The prophets have said time and again that the events that bring renewal and growth in values also bring the Lord. At times, he comes in his resurrection, through happy events that bring life and joy, and more justice and hope for the poor. At other times, he comes through his passion and death.
Precisely because Jesus comes in our daily history, we have a commitment to him to serve our contemporary world.
Be alert, for many begin with generosity, but afterwards they lose sight of the goal and turn out to be mere administrators and activists.
They are committed to works and movements but not to the Lord himself. That is why their life is full of contradictions. For a time they perform marvels and suddenly they fail. They do useful things, but are not aware of the moment they should stop them and follow another path. They do their own work, but do not let the Lord take over their mind, their heart, their whole life.
This does not happen to those who are alert: through them Christ comes to people.
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1. Each of us is responsible for engaging the world for the sake of its wholeness. Down through the years these have fallen into some form of "Works of Piety" and "Works of Mercy". They do interact and inform one another, but when push comes to shove we can't tell the effect of our piety but we can see the result of our mercy. People are better off.
It is in this sense that we are able to follow John Wesley in his sermon On Zeal and give up any pietistic works if a work of mercy presents itself.
2. A fig tree is a symbol of the nation of Israel. Your deepest desire can be symbolized as a fig tree that tells the seasons and brings forth nourishment from dry soil to feed the hungry. Remember the imagery of the fig tree that did not feed the hungry back in the bankruptcy of Israel in Chapter 11.
Use this image of the fig tree as a test of how you are doing in reflecting the season of forgiveness and nurturing others. This will be a test for us all the way through Mark as we hear Mark remark on what happened back then in light of what was going on in his time and touches us to this day.
3. "...the cosmic signs are here correlated to the destruction of the empire. This use of cosmic symbolism to speak of the destruction of an evil empire may be derived form Babylon itself with its reliance upon an astrological cult. But in Isaiah this astrological symbolism is turned against Babylon to announce that the God who destroys the arrogant and merciless empire is coming. This message could not have been lost on Mark's attentive reader. It is the promise that the cruelty of the empire that they face will be overcome by the coming of God. Mark's message is a subversive one in its assurance that the current empire must suffer the same fate as previous ones and must suffer that fate for the same reason, its cruelty and injustice." [from The Insurrection of the Crucified: The "Gospel of Mark" as Theological Manifesto by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr.]
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