In this, the second-to-the-last week of the Church year, Jesus has finally made it to Jerusalem.
Near to his passion and death, he gives us a teaching of hope — telling us how it will be when he returns again in glory.
Today’s Gospel is taken from the end of a long discourse in which he describes tribulations the likes of which haven’t been seen “since the beginning of God’s creation” (see Mark 13:9). He describes what amounts to a dissolution of God’s creation, a “devolution” of the world to its original state of formlessness and void.
First, human community — nations and kingdoms — will break down (see Mark 13:7-8). Then the earth will stop yielding food and begin to shake apart (13:8). Next, the family will be torn apart from within and the last faithful individuals will be persecuted (13:9-13). Finally, the Temple will be desecrated, the earth emptied of God’s presence (13:14).
In today’s reading, God is described putting out the lights that he established in the sky in the very beginning — the sun, the moon, and the stars (see also Isaiah 13:10; 34:4). Into this “uncreated” darkness, the Son of Man, in whom all things were made, will come.
Jesus has already told us that the Son of Man must be humiliated and killed (see Mark 8:31). Here he describes his ultimate victory, using royal-divine images drawn from the Old Testament — clouds, glory, and angels (see Daniel 7:13). He shows himself to be the fulfillment of all God’s promises to save “the elect,” the faithful remnant (see Isaiah 43:6; Jeremiah 32:37).
As today’s First Reading tells us, this salvation will include the bodily resurrection of those who sleep in the dust.
We are to watch for this day, when his enemies are finally made his footstool, as today’s Epistle envisions. We can wait in confidence knowing, as we pray in today’s Psalm, that we will one day delight at his right hand forever.
Scott Hahn is founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, stpaulcenter.com.
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