17 November 2012

THE SON OF MAN WILL COME BACK FOR US

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 13:24-32 (Dn 12:1-3 / Ps 16 / Heb 10:11-14, 18)

We are very familiar with the readings today, especially the Gospel, or are we?  Really, how familiar are we with the thoughts of Jesus regarding the end times?  Do we really understand them?  Do we take them to heart?

The Gospel today ends with this declaration from Jesus Himself: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  Do we really hear Jesus?  As regards the exact day and hour when the world will end, no one knows – not the angels, not the Son Himself, only the Father.  Are we listening?  Do we believe Jesus?  If we do, how come on the one hand there are self-proclaimed prophets who predict the exact day of the end of the world and on the other hand there are many who unwittingly believe them?  No one knows the day nor the hour when the end of the world will be.  Period.  I am even very intrigued that, based from this statement of Jesus, even Him seems to know not.  “…only the Father,” Jesus said, knows when the end will come upon His creation.  If someone claims to know the exact date and hour of the end of the world, does he more know than Jesus?  If you believe so-called “doomsday prophets”, are you not guilty of sinning against the Faith?

We do not know when the world will end.  But we know it will.  We do not know where the end will begin.  But we know how.  We simply have to read Scriptures to refresh our knowledge about the end times.  And the Word of God today reminds us what we already know.

The first reading from the book of the Prophet Daniel is an example of an apocalyptic writing from the Old Testament.  It was written during the exile of the Israelites to Babylon.  The Jews were under the Chaldeans and forced to worship idols.  Those who refused were persecuted, tortured, and countless were martyred.  The Faithful of Yahweh prayed with tears for the day of their liberation and return to God’s holy city, Jerusalem.  The Prophet Daniel funded his people’s hope with the visions that God granted him.  He spoke about the victory of Israel over her enemies, but not without the help of God.  He wrote about the reward of the just and the punishment of the wicked.  In short, the Prophet assured his people that there would be an end to their unspeakable suffering.  Peace would come and the righteousness of Yahweh, the one and true God, would reign over all.  The end is not the end of the Jews but the beginning of a new Israel.

The same is true in the Gospel.  Jesus’ vision of the end times is not really the end of the world but its transformation into a new heavens and a new earth.  Ask anyone what they know about the end of the world and most, if not all, will mention only the horrors and tribulations that shall come upon creation prior to its transformation.  But we miss the whole point about Jesus’ vision of the end times.  Listen: “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘In those days after the tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.’”  Quite often, we end here and point to this dreadful prediction as the “end of the world”.  But Jesus did not.  He declared further, “And they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”  For Jesus, the end of the world is not so much about horrific tragedies as it is about the glorious reign of the “Son of Man” over all.

The phrase and title “Son of Man” originally comes from the book of the Prophet Daniel, from where the first reading today also came.  This seems to be Jesus’ favorite self-designation, taken from the Daniel chapter 7.  The “Son of Man” is a very exalted figure who shall come to set Israel free and reign over all.  More than the phrase “Son of God”, interestingly, Jesus used the title “Son of Man” in referring to Himself quite often in the Gospels, but, as in Mk 10:45, as one who came not to be served but to serve.  Thus, when we, Christians, call Jesus “the Son of Man” we do not only profess that Jesus is truly human but that He is the Promised One, the Messiah and Lord, the Son of God, who already came when He was born and served us by His death and rising but will come again at the appointed time to free us from all the tribulations of our present existence.  When that second coming happens, there will be a new heavens and a new earth which St. Peter the Apostle speaks about in his second letter, chapter 3, verse 13, and St. John the Evangelist writes in Revelation 21:1, for example.  Obviously, the former heavens and the former earth have to pass away for the new ones to come with the Son of Man.

This coming “Son of Man” – Jesus the Christ – is also our High Priest, by whose self-oblation, the Letter to the Hebrews, our second reading today, testifies the forgiveness of our sins had been accomplished.  The same letter further says that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, the “Son of Man” in the book of Daniel and in the Gospels, already seated at the Father’s right hand, consecrates us and perfects us.  Thus, we pray that when He comes again at the end of time He may find us worthy to be counted among His elect.

So, are we really familiar with the thoughts of Jesus about the end times?  If we are focused only on the sun darkening, the moon not giving its light, the stars falling down from the sky, and the powers in the heavens being shaken, then we really do not understand what Jesus taught us about the end times.  The end of the world is not about the wrath of the “Son of Man” but about the fidelity of Jesus who, in Jn 14:3, promised that He shall come back to take us with Him so that we may also be where He is.  This world will end precisely because a new heavens and a new earth shall be established with the coming of the “Son of Man”, and when that happens we shall all be truly free.

Next time someone asks you believe about the end of the world, do not enumerate the horrendous tragedies that, after all, are already happening in our midst, but instead testify about your expectant hope that is funded by the Christian Faith: Jesus will come back for us!  A very inspiring song captures well the attitude we ought to have as we wait for the return of the Lord: “We remember how You loved us to Your death, and still we celebrate for You are with us here.  And we believe that we will see You when You come in Your glory, Lord.  We remember, we celebrate, we believe.”  Let us therefore love like Jesus if we truly remember how He loved us; let us consider all things as grace and thus be thankful at all times if we really celebrate Jesus’ love for us; and if we actually believe that Jesus loves us then let us trust Him and not fear His coming again at the end of time. 

2 Comments:

At 5:23 PM , Anonymous networkace said...

nice blog

 
At 9:27 AM , Blogger Fr. Bobby said...

thank you, networkace.

God bless you! +

 

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