Reflection - Thirty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Photo by NASA from Unsplash
In year B of the church’s liturgical calendar, the gospel of Mark concludes with this Sunday’s reading. Next Sunday, the feast of Christ the King features John’s gospel which concludes the liturgical cycle of year B. God’s ultimate triumph is the main point of this Sunday’s reading. The huge panorama of the world coming to an end is balanced by the freshness of the green leaves of the fig tree.
In the northern hemisphere, autumn is giving away to winter, and the plight of migrant/refugees on the Polish/Belarusian border is grim indeed. Just to mention one hot spot in the world, the pandemic is very much on the mind of people everywhere, but a recent outbreak in Germany, its fourth, is testing the people, not only of that country but of the whole world.
On the other hand, the gathering in Glasgow of COP 26 has the world watching as countries cannot make the necessary decisions to save the planet. Somewhere in our minds, the alarming bells are ringing, and we ask ourselves if this is the beginning of the end for all peoples?
Our own death is a different issue but very compelling. The Maldive Islands in the Indian ocean are in danger of being claimed by rising sea levels, as is Kiribati in the Pacific; they are almost of no consequence except to the people of the land – there are not many of them – the world will cope with their disappearance.
And each of us will not be missed when we die except for a small group of people who were family, friends or other connections.
But the main point of Mark’s gospel is hope. He encourages the early Christian community to have hope in the Son of Man, in the resurrected Christ. Their hope is our hope.
The early Christians expected that the end of the world was imminent when they would be taken up in glory: it did not come - has not come yet. It can be asked if this is about chronology or meaning?
On the one hand, time is an essential factor. Just as the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the world will eventually come to an end. Are we close to it? On the other hand, the gospel of Mark is about meaning. In all the tumultuous events of our world, trust in God still.
Trust in God is a foundation for our relationship with God. Only God the Father knows when all things come to an end. What is consistent through the sacred scriptures is the belief and proclamation that good will triumph over evil definitively.
We are not there yet. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Columban Fr Gary Walker is currently living at the Columban house in Sandgate, Brisbane.