Before He comes again…MARK 13:24–32
By Dr René Jerome Wihby
As we approach the end of the Liturgical Year, the focus of the readings is on the end times. In today’s gospel, Jesus borrows apocalyptic images from the Old Testament (Joel 2:10; Isa 13:10) to illustrate the end of time.
The word ‘end’ is derived from the Greek word ‘eschaton’ and refers to Jesus’ second coming.
The second coming of Jesus signifies an end to all the evils (corruption, poverty, violence, and injustice) that are present in the world. As a result, a ‘new Heaven and Earth’ would emerge that will promote justice and peace. The end of time, however, should not be feared but embraced as a new beginning because it ushers in a period of hope.
Every day at Holy Mass, we pray for Jesus’ second coming when we say, “We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
According to Mark’s Gospel, Jesus refers to Himself in the third person as “The Son of Man”. This title links Jesus to the prophecy in the Book of Daniel (Dan 7:13–14). Jesus predicted that His disciples would see “The Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mk 14:62).
The title ‘The Son of Man’ therefore, implies two things. Firstly, Jesus’ humanity since He joined with our human frailty and weakness, and secondly His exalted state as the Messiah.
The opening lines of the gospel suggest that certain events must occur prior to the Jesus’ second coming. The darkening of the sun would result in a dying moon because the moon does not produce its own light.
The falling of stars from Heaven probably are meteors (fireballs) burning up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and the heavens would shake (Mk 13:24). Is this the reason Jesus said to “… stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour”? (Mt 25:13).
In today’s world, it is difficult to stay awake (focus) because of numerous distractions. We should, however, not become complacent as the chosen would see the Son of Man in all His glory.
Mark’s gospel invites us to engage in introspection. How do I become a member of the chosen? If you knew that the world was going to end, is there anything you would do differently?
The second part of today’s gospel illustrates Jesus’ parable of a fig tree. The fig tree was selected because it was common to the Jewish people. Jesus linked the analogy of the fig tree to His second coming.
While the fig tree buds signify that summer is near, there are many terrifying signs that must happen before Jesus comes again. Although these signs must occur, we are encouraged to step back from fear and move towards a state of grace as we hold on to God’s Word that lasts forever.
How awake are we to God’s Word within us?
Perhaps, we can apply the concept of the fig tree to the synod process that is currently happening in our Church. Pope Francis revealed that now is the time for the Church to engage in mutual listening and to establish camaraderie with each other.
Let us journey together during this exciting stage of our history as a Church and one day we too can exclaim “that summer is near”.
Lord, give us the grace to enter fully into the synod process as we are called to become “a listening Church.” Also, help us to be watchful to the signs that one day signify Your return.
The Gospel Meditations for November are by Dr René Jerome Wihby, a Dean at Presentation College, Chaguanas. He is a parishioner of St Paul’s Parish, Couva.