Gospel Reflection for November 18, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

12 Nov

Jesus was talking to his disciples about the coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus said, “About the day or hour when these things will happen, no one knows.  Neither the angels in heaven nor even the Son, only the Father.”

Mark 13.32

Why is the gospel ambiguous about when the world will end?  To answer that question we have to understand what a gospel is and is not.  A gospel is not a news report of Jesus’ words and activities such as we expect today.  No one videoed Jesus teaching in the temple courtyard.  People passed on Jesus’ teaching orally for 40 years before Mark wrote it down.

Mark is writing in the wake of a cataclysmic event that demands interpretation—the destruction of the temple (AD 70), which ends Israel’s ancient temple-centered religion. This event coincides with Jesus’ eyewitness disciples reaching old age and with the deaths of Peter and Paul, martyred in the mid 60s.  Do these endings signal the end of the world?  Some thought they did at the time.  We know they didn’t.

The gospel records a second Christian voice that insists that only God knows when the end will come.  We live in God’s embrace from beginning to end.

What losses have you experienced in your life that seemed like the end of the world as you knew it?

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