Hope in Tribulation
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 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.
Cardinal John Henry Newman
“The Invisible World,” Parochial and Plain Sermons, 4:13
Once only in the year, yet once, does the world which we see show forth its hidden powers, and in a manner manifest itself. Then the leaves come out, and the blossoms on the fruit trees, and flowers; and the grass and corn spring up. There is a sudden rush and burst outwardly of that hidden life which God has lodged in the material world. Well, that shows you, as by a sample, what it can do at God’s command, when He gives the word.
This earth… will one day burst forth into a new world of light and glory, in which, we shall see Saints and Angels dwelling. Who would think, except from his experience of former springs all through his life, who could conceive two or three months before, that it was possible that the face of nature, which then seemed so lifeless, should become so splendid and varied?…
So it is with the coming of that Eternal Spring, for which all Christians are waiting. Come it will, though it delay; yet though it tarry, let us wait for it, “because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Heb 10,37). Therefore we say day by day, “Thy kingdom come;” which means,- “O Lord, show Thyself; manifest Thyself; Thou that sittest between the cherubim, show Thyself; stir up Thy strength and come and help us” (Ps 80,2-3).