“In those days, I Daniel, heard this word of the Lord: “At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book.
“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.””[/one_half]
“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, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.””[/one_half_last]
Today’s First and Gospel Readings at the Sacrifice of the Mass come from Daniel 12:1-3 and Mark 13:24-32, respectively. In these verses the prophet Daniel and Christ Jesus offers us a number of images of the ‘last days’. Daniel, hearing from the Lord, conveyed that it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress; those who sleep in the dust of earth shall awake and some shall live forever, while others shall be an everlasting horror in disgrace. Jesus says there will be a number of signs visible to sensory perception that His coming has arrived; such as a darkened sun, a moon that gives no light, stars falling from the sky, and the great sign of the Son of Man coming in the clouds in power and glory. He concludes His imagery with the warning, “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
The reading from the Gospel according to Mark in particular can be divided into the Triumph of the Son of Man (vv. 24-27) and the Exhortation to confidence and vigilance (vv. 28-27). The former is filled with cosmic signs, echoing Daniel (SEE ALSO: Isa. 13:10, 34:4; Ezek. 32:7; Amos 8:9; Joel 2:10, 31; 13:15; and Hag. 2:6, 21) with portends of the glorious and victorious arrival of the Son of Man at the eschaton. The key and significant departure of Mark is that none of the Old Testament cosmic portend preceded the coming of the Son of Man. For Mark, these signs in the creation are given to us to know when the Lord is signaling His coming.
The latter section of Mark (vv. 28-32) is an exhortation consisting of a parable in which Jesus speaks about the time of the eschaton, the time in which it will come, and a comment about His authority and the degree of His knowledge about the precise time of the eschatological event. Vv. 33-37, not included in today’s Gospel Reading is a second parable (“like a man traveling abroad”). Again, Jesus is pointing us to creation to discover signs of His final coming, but He tempers them by reminding us even He, “neither the angels in Heaven” know the exact day or hour, “but only the Father.”
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” In this verse Jesus draws from the language of Isaiah 51:6, “Raise your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth below; Though the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies, My salvation shall remain forever and my victory shall always be firm,” and 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower wilts, but the word of our God stands forever” to draw His hearer into believing in the divine authority of His teaching. The word of God is truth everlasting, eternal and is greater than that which it creates.
From the Apostles themselves till today, gallons of ink have been spilled on predicting and warning about the eschatological event. For every generation the world looks ripe for the promised divine destruction and renewal. Imagine for a second how disturbing it would be for a faithful Christian from the 19th century to visit a mainstream city in the United States today. Through the temptations of the world, the flesh and the Devil, mainstream culture and media has done a great job desensitizing those without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to evil all around us. Sexual immorality, deceit, lack of regard for human life, broken family, greed, relativism, indifference, apathy and absence of God many segments of society abounds and is the new normal. If that did disturb our 19th century Christian, businesses being open on Sunday, people using cursing God’s name in movies, Churches evangelizing their social programs rather than the teachings of Jesus, the immodest dress of women, Christian theology not being able to be taught in public schools, and lack of regard that children had for their elders definitely would. This and more lead our time traveler to believe our time was surely the ‘last days’.
Are they? Has creation spoken loudly enough? How much worse can it get? Being that none of us knows for certain the day or hour of our death, we must do all that we can, with the help of God’s grace, to live a life worthy of Him who loved us first, and we must love others as He loved us by sharing with as many people as possible the Good News of a better life In Christ Jesus
As you reflect upon the readings at Mass today, here are some questions for you to consider:
- Who am I right now in this regard? Am I only concerned about my own salvation and unconcerned about the eschaton? Am I overly concerned about it? Do I find time in my life to call people’s attention to truth and consequences of Jesus’ coming?
- Is my heart troubled, anxious, and afraid about the end times or am I resting in the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
- How often do you pray for those who don’t know Jesus? Can you find time to pray more often and more fervently for them?
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.