We pray today for all those who perished in Paris on Friday night this atrocity serves no one. This Sunday in our Gospel story we hear about the End times and I am sure that the people who died didn’t think that they were approaching their end times may all of them through the mercy of God rest in peace.
For the past two millennia, Christians have looked to the future and asked, “When, Lord, when is all this going to kick off?” Jesus saw the end of time event as the visit of the divine King. God would prepare the visit with cosmic signs and events as a means of announcement. The King would arrive in a way that reflected his power and reputation (on the clouds); his messengers (“angels”) would go throughout the known world to gather all the faithful. Remember that the Jewish people had been displaced throughout the known world because of economic opportunity or oppression. Jesus implied that the injustice of Jews living on foreign soil would be corrected during his lifetime How did his disciples know Jesus spoke the truth? Jesus gave a farming analogy of the fig tree to support his belief in God’s immanent judgement.
Every spring we observe the twigs on a bare tree start to grow and go green then Leaves appear and we know that summer is on the horizon. As Spring is a prelude to Summer, and Autumn warns of Winter so we must not be complacent, imagining that life can be held in suspension because life keeps marching on.
After the cosmic fireworks, Jesus imagines a peace beyond suffering. This vision of peace is important for Mark’s persecuted community: they need more than a firework display to see them through their own historical apocalypse. If their hope is not to be exhausted by force of circumstances, they need help to imagine a far side to pain and suffering. Mark gives their hope help in sharing Jesus’ vision. For that is the purpose of all apocalyptic writing: to fund the hope of those who suffer in the present. We live in an age of uncertainty: the future never looks wholly secure. But Jesus holds out a vision that takes us beyond our worst imaginings. There is a place beyond the mountains of arms and weapons, beyond environmental damage and terrorism. This vision doesn’t free us from the duty to strive for peace and right living, but it does free us from the blasphemy of believing that a nuclear holocaust will be the last word in the human story. In the meantime, we have to depend on the promise of Jesus: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” No one, not even the Son, knows when all this will take place. The only sure thing we can hold on to is the word of Jesus and all we are asked to do is hold fast to what we know to be good and in these times when we look at all that is happening around us this is good advice.