In the passage from Gospel of Mark which we heard today,
Jesus is no longer preaching to crowds.
He is not walking along the dusty roads of Gallilee with his disciples.
He is not healing the sick.
He is already in Jerusalem and his time is pretty much being spent with his closest disciples.
He knows that his time on earth draws to an end.
It is almost as if they are huddled together talking and listening to each other.
In the near term He predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and eventually the destruction of the Temple itself.
These would have been terrifying events for Jews the early Christians.
Can you imagine how terrifying if would be for us to look over Washington and see the Capital building burning or the Shrine in ruins from the attack of an invading army?
In the long term,
Jesus is speaking to everyone of us about trials and tribulations that all of us will face.
He is speaking about the end of time
and the inevitable judgment that every human being will eventually endure.
In the very next chapter, Chapter 14,
He will celebrate the Passover together with his closest friends and give them and the Church the incredible gift of the Eucharist.
With the Eucharist Jesus shows us that no matter what happens no matter what difficulties we face we will never, we can never face them alone he is with us always.
In Chapter 14 he will also be abandoned by his closest friends and be betrayed by a kiss, terrible things indeed.
There is an intensity when he talks.
It is as if he is trying to make sure that he says everything he needs to say.
He knows that in the lives of his disciples, our lives, and the lives of every human being there will be difficult moments, very difficult moments.
He knows that some may lose hope and lose faith.
He speaks about these things to give us something to hold on to.
He warns us in advance so that we can and need to read the signs of the times and be ready.
You know there is a fig tree out in front of Salve Regina Hall, in August it has wonderful big red figs, that are really sweet and moist.
If you went over there in the dead of winter and bent one of the small branches it would break
but if you go towards the end of March and bend the very same branch it bends… and summer is on its way.
Jesus wants us so desperately to read the signs of the times.
Jesus does not want us taken by surprise;
he doesn’t want us shocked
he doesn’t want us overcome by fear, doubt or despair.
By warning us about the struggles that we will face.
He helps us to be prepared to face them with less fear and apprehension.
So what does this have to do with all of us.
For those of you who are young and seem to have the world by the tail…
you are strong,
you are healthy the future seems of very bright
and it is…
Today’s readings remind us that bad things can happen and bad things will happen and that all of us will face difficult moments.
The great sin of youth is presumption.
Those who are young always presume that they have lots time
They sadly presume that they can begin to work on holiness tomorrow or the next day.
These readings challenge us to favoid the sin of presumption.
They remind us that we will be judged by how we lived and how much we loved.
When you are young it is so hard to remember that this life is not all that there is
When you are young it is so hard to remember that even now we should be preparing to face eternity.
In a history of the Order I read that that some of the friars in times past used to place a human skull on their desk or in their rooms to remind them every day of their mortality.
For our times and culture that would be a pretty morbid practice, it may even be against the law.
Yet, every morning when the friars would get up and see that skull they would face the reality that they know neither the day or the hour..
It reminded them that judgment and death awaited them.
The sight of that skull challenged maybe even scared them to live and love that day as best as they could.
Today’s readings are kind of like that skull they remind anyone who takes them seriously that Tempus Fugit… time is flying…
For those who are older these readings help us understand that the sign of the times may include sickness and weakness and the aches and pains of everyday life.
The signs of the times may even include the illness or death of a dear loved one…
The signs of the times may be reminder that our time on earth is coming to an end
The sin of old age is to get lost in self pity and allow ourselves to be overcome by pain
The readings challenge us not be lost in our discomfort and illnesses or our trials and tribulations because we know that they are coming.
Rather when the signs of the times are clear it is important to cram and cram hard for the final final of finals.
Today’s readings remind us that no matter what the world faces
or for that matter what we face personally God’s word will not pass away.
God’s word and God’s promises will last forever
No matter how desperate things get …. everything that Jesus said
and everything Jesus did is true.
He promises his followers eternal life
and the trials and tribulations and struggles of life
no matter how big cannot take away that promise.
The other night I stopped in a Renew group from Conaty I believe, and one of the students asked me Fr. Bob “what would you do if you read the signs of the times and knew the world was going to end in 15 minutes? What would you do?”
On this Sunday that is a very important and appropriate question indeed. And so I pass it on to you..
“What would you do if you knew the world was going to end in 15 minutes. What would you do?”
Remember we know neither the day or the hour….
All of us have to ask ourselves every single day
Are we ready?