The End

Dear Folks,In the movie, “Avengers: Endgame” Tony Stark states a very simple but profound truth that “part of a journey is the end.” Our reading this Sunday is from the apocalyptic chapter of Mark. Quick review: apocalypse is from the Greek for “removal of the veil,” and revelation is from the Latin. That is why in older Catholic Bibles the Book of Revelation is called Apocalypse. Removal of the veil is what happened in ancient weddings, so the image refers to the wedding of the Bride and the Lamb at the end of Revelation. It also points to removing the veil from the meaning of word events: it may look like evil is winning, but God is at work, and this is leading us to a glorious end. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all have apocalyptic chapters (Chapters 24, 13, and 21, respectively). John doesn’t, but he has the Book or Revelation. Mark 13 starts with the prediction of the destruction of the temple (the temple would be destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70), moves into descriptions of tribulations of various kinds, and leads to “’the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory (Mark 13:26).” This refers to the Second Coming at the end of time.When Jesus refers to “the Son of Man” we must remember it is a reference to Daniel 7. Daniel is having a dream, and there is a succession of beasts that rule great kingdoms, and then “As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man. When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, on that shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).” Whenever Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man (Math 9:6; 26:64; Mark 2:10; 8:31; 14:62; Luke 5:24; 9:22; 22;69), He is referencing this text from Daniel, a text that His audience would have known very well. Referring to Himself as the Son of Man was a bold statement from the beginning, and the closer He comes to the cross, the more open He is about His glory. We see at His trial before the Sanhedrin, “the high priest asked him and said to him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?’ Then Jesus answered, ‘I am, and “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power and coming with the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:61-62).”’”When Stephen was being martyred, he said that he saw, “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).” The second coming happens to us personally when we reach the end of our earthly life. The early martyrs would often go to the arena singing hymns of praise to God. When the cross gets more up close and personal in our lives, we can witness in a special way to the glory of Christ the King.Many people over the years have attempted to take the apocalyptic literature of the Bible and crack it like a code to figure out when the end of the world will come. This is especially puzzling given how the Scriptures repeatedly tell us we won’t know when (for example,Matthew 24:36-44; Mark 13:32-36, Luke 12:40). The challenge is to be ready, to hold the things of this earth (including our earthly lives) in a loose grip and be ready to face whatever happens.We do not know what the future will bring, but Jesus calls us to be ready, with our eyes on the goal.Blessings,Fr. Jim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s