- Isaiah 64:1-9
- Psalm 80:1-18
- 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
- Mark 13:24-37
Chapter 13 of Mark is full of ominous signs and strong words of advice. It may seem obscure to us today, but it is full of distinctly Jewish traditions and phrases of speech. But they are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.
Jesus warns his followers to be on the alert for the many dangers of the way so that they may persevere to the end. Those who follow Jesus today know that the way has not become any easier, and that the dangers may be greater and more numerous than ever before. We are offered a renewed vision that will enable us to remain on Jesus’ way; today’s reading instills a hope and determination that can sustain us on the perilous journey.
The people of Jesus’ day believed that the celestial bodies were visual symbols of unseen spiritual powers, not necessarily benevolent to human beings. The shaking of “the powers of the heavens” becomes visible in these outward changes. The “Son of man” does the shaking; he upsets the spiritual authorities who persecute God’s people. The early Church identified this celestial “Son” prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14) with the glorified Christ who will return to earth in power and glory with angels surrounding him.
The whole New Testament is full of this expectation. In the early Church, the hope of the second coming ignited the faith of the believers and gave them courage in desperate times. In the Church today, perhaps because of the arrogance of those who wish to calculate the days and times of Jesus’ return, many in disgust have lost their expectation of Christ’s cosmic victory.
The day will come when God’s wisdom and presence will be fully revealed. It will be a time of both tremendous hope and promise, but it will also be a time of judgment God’s people must live in readiness for that great day to come.
Christians are called out to be the watchmen for an ever-evolving new age in which the world and presence of God can be actualized in the lives of people. We are called to live above the apathy that often permeates our society. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a classic example of a dreamer who took the Advent readings seriously and moved to seek fulfillment of the Word in his own life and in the lives of others.
Jesus calls his followers to live in light of this promise, waiting expectantly for the Son of man to appear in glory.
- In Mark 13:24-27, Jesus gives us a vivid description of what will happen when the Son of man comes. How do you think his audience might have reacted to these words? What is your personal response to this vision of the coming of the Son of man?
- What added impetus does the parable in verses 34-36 give to this warning from Jesus?
- Read Isaiah 64:1-9 and 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. What further light do these readings shed on the words of Jesus in the Gospel?
- Advent is a season of hope and expectation. What do you find in these passages that gives you hope?
- Jesus warns us in the concluding verse of today’s gospel that we are to be awake and to watch. What will you watch for this Advent season?