14 November 2009

BEYOND THE HOLY MOUNTAIN

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 13:24-32


There is a story about a certain tribe that lives at the foot of a high and revered mountain. The king lies on his deathbed and calls his three sons. “My sons,” the king said, “my days are already numbered. Before I depart from this world, I must choose from among you one who will be king after me.” The faces of the three princes fall at the dying words of their father-king. “To help me choose,” the king continues, “I give each of you the task to climb the holy mountain and bring me back whatever outstanding you find there. Whoever among you can bring me the most outstanding from the holy mountain is worthy to rule the kingdom after I have departed from this world.”

The three princes immediately begin their search. Each takes a different path but all leading to the top of the holy mountain. After a few days, they return. The eldest holds a colorful and fragrant flower that grows on top of the holy mountain only. The second presents his catch: a wild and strong animal. But the youngest has nothing but empty hands.

“Father,” the youngest explains, “I have nothing to show you. I cannot bring home what I saw. While standing on top of the holy mountain, I saw that beyond our kingdom is a very beautiful land – vast and fertile with trees and plants. The land is reddish and the various animals roam around. A wide and flowing river divides the land. I was so engrossed with what I saw and I realized that I was already looking at where our tribe can go for a better life. I cannot bring home what I saw but I can strive to bring our people there.” And the king said: “You, my youngest, are the one worthy to rule over our tribe because you are the one who brought home the most important thing – the vision of a better future.

This beautiful story is not from the Holy Bible, but the Holy Bible has many stories of great figures who, having the premonition that their lives were about to end, gathered their sons or their followers for a final speech composed of blessings and instructions. Before Jacob died, he called and blest his twelve sons from whom came the twelve tribes of Israel. Before Moses passed away, he encouraged the Israelites to be steadfast and appointed Joshua as his successor in leading them. Before the he died, King David also made a farewell speech to his officials and passed on his scepter to Solomon. Even Jesus – prior to His death gathered His disciples and gave them His last teaching about the future. He instructed them on how they should conduct themselves in the midst of conflicts and persecutions. The gospel read today in this Mass is part of that final pronouncement of Jesus.

“In those days, after that time of tribulation…” – this is how the gospel today begins. But what does Jesus mean with His “in those days”? And what kind of tribulation is He referring to? The gospel today is taken from the thirteenth chapter of the gospel according to Mark. This part of the gospel of Mark is the most difficult to comprehend. The key, however, in understanding it is in reading the entire thirteenth chapter. And when we do read that entire chapter, we realize that Jesus’ “in those days” does not mean any exact time or date but the period between Jesus’ proclamation and the end of the world. Thus, clearly, our today is “in those days” too. We live in that time of tribulation.

But it certainly shall end.

It is very important to remember that St. Mark wrote his gospel during the start of the widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. No doubt, the persecuted disciples of Jesus wondered if the end was already near. In fact, a keen reader of the Pauline epistles can sense in the Apostle’s letters, especially to the Thessalonians, his seeming belief that Jesus’ Second Coming would happen during his lifetime. But two thousand years have already passed and Jesus has not returned yet and the end of the present order remains a possibility. This, however, does not mean Jesus will not return and the world will never end. All it says is that Jesus has not returned yet and the world – as we know it – remains intact. Thus, what humans can do is think about and prepare for that moment.

A literary genre eventually evolved: the apocalyptic writings whose main purpose is not to frighten us with the horrors of what is yet to come but to teach us to look beyond it with vibrant hope. Even Jesus looks at that moment when He, the Son of Man, shall appear to all and gather into Himself the scattered People of God. Even now, in the gospel, Jesus already sees beyond the present and future tribulations: the reign of God’s eternal peace.

For the readers of St. Mark from the early Christian community, such a vision of peace was very important. They were in a journey toward the peace that both they envision and that Jesus promised. But their journey passes through tribulations and sufferings, including physical death. They needed help to see beyond their sorrows, trials, persecutions, and death. We also need the same help, do we not? And as they, the early Christians, were able to share in the vision of Jesus, we pray that we may be able to do the same.

We do not know many things. We cannot do many things. We have many worries and fears. But, there is one thing we know, we can, and we are sure about: we may hold on the words of Jesus. “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” He said, “but My words will never pass away.” It is our holding on to His word that will carry us through the mountain of sorrows, mountain of sufferings, mountain of anxieties, mountain of tribulations; and, like the youngest prince in the opening story of our reflection, see beyond them and gain a vision of God’s peace. That peace will not come upon us. We will come upon it. And one word is all we need: Jesus. For Jesus is our Peace. That is already more than enough for us.

2 Comments:

At 7:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Jesus,i believe that no amount of fear, worries, anxieties, incapability, inability, sadness of being alone, heavy obligations and self sacrifice cannot be washed away with fervent prayers.

When we chose You to be the number one companion in our life's journey, our spirit emanates from within . Before we know it, we feel that You are with us and we are with You.before we know it, the solution is in our lap.

When we decide that God is our guide and light, it is an assurance of sure, safe landing.

All praise to You Lord Jesus. Amen


-rory

 
At 11:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ang kabilang ibayo ay tulad ng pagkatapos ng bawa't unos ay mayroon ding liwanag. Sa kabila ng pagkakasala ay mayroon ding kapatawaran.Sa kabila ng lahat , mahal pa rin tayo ng Diyos .

Panginoon, salamat sa lahat ng inyong pagpapala dahil sa kabila ng lahat ng aming pagkukulang ay pinili mo pa rin kaming mahalin. Amen.

 

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