33Rd Sunday Of Ordinary Time
This Sunday we celebrate the 33rd Sunday of the year as we head towards the end of the Churches liturgical year at the feast of Christ the King and then we go into the Advent and Christmas seasons (Dare I mention CHRISTMAS?) As always at this time of year, we begin to contemplate the end of the world ‑ a theme that carries us over into next Sunday’s feast Christ the King and then into Advent. Such a contemplation is not gloomy or morbid: throughout the ages (and especially in the early days) Christians have been utterly positive about the coming end of all things, because we know what will happen the phrase that gives this away is in the Gospel: “Then… he will send his angels to gather his chosen from the four winds.” This gathering of God’s children together will be a truly wonderful event, when we will all be completely enfolded in that love of God that we hear so much about.
Jesus’ teaching today reminds us that there is nothing really permanent in all the structures of this world. Jesus cuts straight to our desire for immortality with these disquieting words “All will be thrown down.” These are the words that echo the great prophetic tradition of the Jewish people. No doubt this raised the anxiety of the disciples who press him for answers of “when will this be?” They press him for signs of the end.
In Jesus’ day, and down throughout the ages to our own time, there are plenty of people out there who look for signs, as if knowing when the end will come will somehow change its coming. Our faith tells us there will be a time when all things will come to an end; does knowing exactly when it will happen really give us any mastery over it? I don’t think that it does.
In the larger context of Mark’s gospel, these words from Jesus come just before he enters Jerusalem to be crucified. These words about the destruction of the temple and upheavals to come are a prefiguring of his own death – the very destruction of his own body. “All will be thrown down” is a promise that all things of this world will fall apart, disintegrate and die. However Jesus reminds us that our job in this present time isn’t to know exactly what will happen, how it will happen, or when it will happen; rather our job is to be faithful, patient and keep awake, because God is working out the plan of salvation and has not abandoned us. Everything will be all right because God is in charge. This isn’t to say things will be easy and that hardships and suffering won’t befall us because they will. It isn’t an empty optimism promising things will get better for our lives; they may or may not be better and more often they may well be worse. It is a promise that God is in charge regardless of anything that happens to us.
Christ promises us that things will be all right because God has the last word. When death on the cross appeared to be the end, it certainly was not God had the last word at an empty tomb on the third day, the day of resurrection.
Throughout our lives, we will experience death and resurrection many times over as the neatly arranged structures of our lives are thrown down. In faith and because of faith we will not be disappointed god is with us and there will be many times in the future as there have been in the past and are in the here and now of today when we see that everything will be all right because God is in charge and God is working out the plan of salvation for all of us and has not abandoned us. So let us trust in the Lord who made heaven and earth and remains with us in happy and sad as well as the good and the bad times .