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,
There’s an old Chinese blessing—or is it a curse: “May you live in interesting times!”
We live in times marked with the constant threat of terrorism, dizzying changes in technology, and a struggle by people just to keep up. I suspect we’d all trade a lot of the chaos for something less “interesting.”
We’re in good company. Read today’s passage from the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark. It’s from a section of “apocalyptic” sayings by Jesus. “Apocalyptic” writing in the Bible deals with the future and is full of strange and poetic symbolism. Its meaning can be a mystery.
Scripture scholars suggest that this chapter of Mark reflects in part the chaotic times in which Mark’s community lived—perhaps in the midst of Roman persecution. Fear, violence, threats to the community were a reality. Christians must have wondered if the end was near.
In response, Mark reassures us with the words of Jesus. In verses just preceding today’s selection, we hear that the end of all things must wait until the Gospel is proclaimed to the ends of the earth—a task still in process today. True, Christians must struggle, but they’re not to retreat from chaos. Instead, we must be in the midst of it, active witnesses to hope. Jesus’ words, full of hope, will never pass away.
In the first reading, Daniel speaks the word of the Lord. What message did the Lord send through Daniel? Who will come during a time of great distress? Will this be a time of final judgment when God will separate the good from the wicked?
Jesus offered a priest one sacrifice in the second reading. What was that one sacrifice for? Where is Jesus? Will there be further offerings for sin?
What did Jesus say to his disciples in this week's Gospel about the end of the world? What are the signs? Who did he say will return at the end of the world? Will anyone know when it will happen?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
This week's readings and Gospel speak of troubling times. Even today there are such periods of tumult and trouble. Find some ways that you can shine a light on the positive. Perhaps it's paying for the person behind you in line at the drive-thru. Or pay someone a compliment. Whatever you can do to help brighten someone's day, do that this week.
The Gospel describes quite a scene of darkness and then amazing light. What do you think it might have looked like? Draw a picture of it.
Have you had a particularly trying time in your life? Write about it and then reflect on and write about what you learned from going through it.