This morning’s Gospel reading appointed for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost is a familiar one from St. Mark:

13:1 As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 13:2 Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” 13:3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 13:4 “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 13:5 Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 13:6 Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 13:7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 13:8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.

St. Mark 13:1-8

The signs are all there. The signs always have been, and as long as the world refuses the Kingdom of God evermore will be. Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the Temple is more than a microcosmic symbol of a self-perpetuating tendency in humanity to destroy. For the Jews, the Temple a microcosm of Creation, and thus their “connection” to the Divine. To trash it was to destroy the very presence of God in this world. And Jesus prophesied the event accomplished by the Roman general Titus in 70 A.D. To read on is to discover that Jesus linked His own coming to that destruction as the beginnings, not the end.   

That in itself raises the question of why the Christ has not returned in nearly 2,000 years. Frequently the more attentive disciples suffer from a stark realization of the historic panorama of man’s inhumanity to man. They dare to ask the question of not why God allows the persistence of evil, but why the Pantokrator allows it for so long, the wars, the hatreds, the false prophets who testify against Him, the genocides, the tyrants… Then we live with the crimes, the plagues, the evils of this world that affect and afflict each of us at the more intimately personal level. That in itself gives us pause to consider death itself, the first category of eschatology, the phenomenon that speaks of what this world’s denizens ignore most about the destruction of their very own physical, corporeal existence and experience of life. It ends.

The more mundane assumptions about that Coming, almost cavalier in their passivity, seem oblivious to the link between destruction and judgment. One of the first things I noted in my long-ago association with fundamentalism is that so much is made of events that they regard as a given, while my search for publications about the biblical notion of judgment revealed next to nothing. The only facet of the end that we can do anything about seems to be ignored. Examples are the passive evangelical who rests in the notion that Jesus is coming soon and the faithful will realize paradise. The mass evangelists have made tremendous capital off that conception, even to the date-setting and time-tabling utilizing tortured texts pulled from the Hebrew prophets and the Book of Revelation magically transformed into a road map of the “end times”. Another is from a personal acquaintance of mine who once in a monologue about her preferences in dates announced that she liked it when men take her to their upscale hotels. Then several sentences later she claimed that no man is her “perfect 10” except Jesus Christ. She apparently was ignorant of Jesus’ mission and His prophecy, or she would realize what Jesus will do to their upscale hotels.

The point is that the link between the coming of the Christ and the destruction of appearances that many in this world highly regard is axiomatic. For appearances are perspectival, and what some regard as sacred others regard as obstacles, even the ‘others’ as the obstacles.

So, accompanied by some discomfort, I know when Jesus is coming, soon!

For understanding, simply pass by your local cemetery and take in the scenery. Absorb what the grave markers are trying to tell you about when Jesus is coming, soon and very soon. “No man knows the time when the Son of Man comes…” (read on a few verses in St. Mark), well no we don’t, not “in the clouds and with great glory.” That time we do not know.

But when you have passed by that cemetery, pull over somewhere, anywhere, and look in your mirror. Then you also will realize, you will know the time that really matters when Jesus is coming, soon!

For you… and me…

Father David+ 

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