18 NOVEMBER 2018 - 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B) Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-14,18; Mark 13:24-32
– Shiu Lan
With the increasing frequency and severity of the natural disasters in the recent past, people see these unusual phenomena as a sign of the end of the world although scientists have concluded that the real reason is that we have not been taking good care of the environment. We have in fact been exploiting the planet on which we live. This has become a topic of conversation and even concern to a lot of people, whether or not they have a religious belief. People have started making predictions about the end of the world and when it would happen. Indeed, Jesus told us that all these – wars, earthquakes, famines, sufferings, family rising against one another, people rising against people (Mark 13:7-8, 12) – would happen before the end of time. He said “when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near” (Mark 13:29). When we look around, what Jesus said seems to be happening now. But Jesus also said “[A]bout that day or hour no one knows …. But only the Father” (Mark 13:32).
At the end of time, the Son of Man will come again “with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26) to judge the living and the dead. When that happens, we want to be among the elect that the Son of Man will send his Angels to gather “from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (Mark 13:27). How may we merit to be counted among the elect? Luke 21:36 tells us how: “Be alert at all times, praying that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man”. We must watch our lives to make sure that we live by the words of Jesus that He promised would not pass away. (Mark 13:31) If we live out the Gospels, if we live according to the teachings of the Church, then we have no fear and may look forward to the end of time with faith and hope.
Meanwhile as we wait in joyful hope for Jesus’ coming in glory, it is quite inevitable that we will have to endure sufferings one way or the other in this world of calamities. Jesus told us that our earthly journey will be so. When we need consolation and grace to see us through our difficult journey in life, we know that Jesus will not forsake us. Let us be reminded of our Lord’s endless mercy and compassion for us in these uplifting verses from the beautiful Chinese hymn “Praise to the Lord’s Benevolence”
“He has not promised that the sky will always be blue,
He has not promised that flowers will always be in bloom,
But He has promised that He will always be benevolent”
Called to be “Angels” of Joy and Hope
– Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau
At the beginning of chapter 13, Mark the evangelist recalls the words of the Lord not to be deceived by the foolish discourses of those who preach the imminent end of the world: “Don’t let anyone mislead you. When you hear of wars and threats of war, don’t be troubled: this must occur, but the end is not yet.” (Mk 13:5-8). Continuing from there, Jesus takes many images in today’s gospel not to frighten the disciples, but to console them. Plagues, famines, violence and persecutions which they must confront are signs of a world still dominated by evil, but the end of this painful reality has already been decreed and its decline has begun. Immediately after the eclipse of these oppressive idols, there appears, with the clouds of heaven and with great power and glory, the Son of Man to establish the kingdom (v. 26).
The Son of Man “will send the angels to gather his chosen people from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky” (v. 27).
The meaning of the image of the “angels gathering the elect from the four winds” is the announcement of a judgment; there is no mention of any punishment; the message is anything but threatening. It is the comforting answer given by Mark to his communities who are going through persecutions, harassments and killings.
To those Christians who are tempted to give up, Mark recalls the promise made by Jesus: the Son of Man will not allow them to be lost; through his angels he will gather them from the four winds—a symbol of the four cardinal points—and then will gather them from all the earth.
The reunion of the disciples will not be in view of the showdown, but for salvation. The angels are identified on the basis of biblical references. In the Bible, the term angel is applied to anyone who becomes a tool in the hands of the Lord in favor of man. Moses who led Israel in the wilderness is called “angel” (Ex 23:20,23); John the Baptist is presented at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark as an “angel” (Mk 1:2). Angels of the Lord are those who cooperate with God’s plan.
Translated by Fr John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Fr Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF