33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 13: 24-32
24 “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Pointers for Sunday Homily Reflection
This 33rd Sunday is the penultimate. The following Sunday we will celebrate the end of a liturgical year with the celebration of Christ the king Sunday. Our liturgical calendar ends with a great confession on Jesus—as the Great King, the King of Kings.
Our readings, following the ebb and flow of our liturgical calendar, deal with the themes on end-times. The readings neither intend to sow fear or panic nor spread rumors of actual end-of-the-world predictions. In fact our liturgical calendar ends with much hope, much joy, and much jubilation—it ends with the proclamation of Jesus as the King of the universe. At the end of history is our God of history. We might not know where we are going, but we know who holds the future, as the old adage puts it. It is our Lord himself who will meet us in the future. If this does not give us much confidence and hope, what else?
Gospel Reading Context
For the evangelist, to describe the end means simply to pick-up from their most recent historical horrible experience. This experience refers to the conquest of Judah and the consequent destruction of the temple of Jerusalem by the Romans around AD 73, which marks another very painful historical experience of Israel. This horrible experience is enough to describe the probable end-of-time scenario. Therefore, there is no need to speculate when and how the world is to end, there is no need to fear that the scripture is actually projecting an actual end-time scenario. Our evangelist digs from their very own harrowing historical experience in order to depict a probable end-time scenario. A simile of an end time experience, we have here. Remember, from the liturgical point of view, God awaits us at the end of history. However it might be, the image of love and fidelity is at the end of days—a faithful God.
The “Son of Man”—Coming in Great Glory and Power
The catastrophic images of the end-times is mitigated by the “Son of Man” image. The “Son of Man is coming in cloud’s with great power and glory” (v.25). In what way is the Son of Man coming in glory and power?
In the book of Mark, the title of Jesus as Son of Man refers to his act of forgiveness and salvific sacrifice. The title is first used in Mk 4:10, when Jesus’ healing authority is related to the forgiveness of Sin. To the Paralytic Jesus said “Son your sins are forgiven (2:5). To such act of Jesus, the scribes retorted that Jesus was blaspheming God, because only God can forgive sins. But Jesus is indeed a God. Three times Jesus talks about his death and resurrection (8:31; 9:31; 33-34) in all these predictions, Mark uses the title the “Son of Man” for Jesus. We very well know that this is Jesus’ destiny—as a Son of Man–to give his life for you and me, to ransom us from sin, and to give to us a share in the heavenly homeland.
Therefore, for those who believe the glory that is yet to be revealed by the Son of Man is the glory of us being forgiven, humanity restored to its original state, a glory of God re-claiming creation once again for His own through Jesus the Son of Man. Our God meets his creation once a gain in the end times. This is a great message, this is a message of hope, this is a challenge to be worthy to meet our God of goodness and fidelity any time.
Fr. der, oar