Mark 13: 24-32
24 But during this period, after all these difficulties, the sun will darken and the moon will no longer reflect light, 25 the stars will fall from the sky and the forces of the cosmos will be shaken. 26 Then we will see the new Adam making himself mysteriously visible with force and the extraordinary quality of his being. 27 At that time, the latter will send his messengers and gather the elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
28 Learn a lesson from the fig tree by considering this comparison drawn from life. At the moment when its branch becomes tender and gives leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these happenings, know that the new Adam is near the doors. Truly, I assure you, this generation will not go away until all this has happened. 31 Heaven and earth will eventually disappear, but my words will never disappear.
32 Concerning the question of the day and hour of this event, no one knows it, not even the messengers of heaven, not even the Son, but only the Father.
Will the human epic be a disaster?
Gospel commentary - Homily
Someone in my workplace recently told me about her brother's divorce. As common as it may seem to us, we know that for a couple who lives this painful event it is all his world that collapses. Beyond the personal dramas, there are collective dramas. At the time of writing, war is raging in Lebanon, with its hundreds of dead and all its ruined houses. What remains of their world to people who have nothing left but their tears and cries of pain.
When we want to turn to this passage of the Gospel of Mark to get a little light and hope, we can be really confused by his language. "The stars will begin to fall from the sky". But let's see! According to modern physics, stars can not fall; on the contrary, according to the law of gravity, it is the earth, much smaller, which should fall on the stars. "The sun will darken," says our text again. According to modern physics, this will happen when the sun has consumed all its hydrogen, that is, in 5 billion years. It's not tomorrow the day before. We quickly understand that we are here in a symbolic language. And indeed, it is a language that comes to us from the Old Testament, specifically from the prophet Isaiah. But all that to say what exactly?
To announce the destruction of a world is to aspire to a better world. Why does a couple separate, if not in the hope that life will be better otherwise? What are all these Muslim fundamentalists looking for in the destruction of Western culture, if not the strict application of "Sharia" and a life according to the Koran. Mark's passage is part of an "apocalyptic" current, typical of groups for whom their situation is painful, and thus announces in their faith the disappearance of this world and the appearance of a new one. What is this better world that Mark announces?
Here again, the language is confusing: "Then we will see the Son of man come, surrounded by clouds, in the fullness of power and in glory". These images borrowed from the Old Testament actually refer to a people believed to be defeated, and who to general surprise will end up being the true winner of the story, and who took for us the face of the risen Jesus, image of the healed humanity, the new Adam. So I prefer to translate this Greek text of Mark by: "Then we will see the new Adam making himself mysteriously visible with force and the extraordinary quality of his being". It is our true belief that, in spite of all our failures, cul de sacs and atrocious dramas that we are witnessing, the epic of human history will succeed.
Allow a personal example. Several years ago, in a moment of impatience with a dog, I deeply shocked my ultra sensitive daughter; I was in his eyes a horrible being. This was the trigger for a latent war. On the one hand, she rejected this demanding and distant being that I was, considering him inhuman. On the other hand, I did not understand this girl often in crisis, criticizing everything and doing as she pleased. At that time, we almost never talked, ignoring each other. It lasted several years, to the great despair of my wife who did not see how reconciliation could be done. And then suddenly, like on tiptoe, what was impossible just happened, without being able to pinpoint exactly the decisive event. Dialogue and love have been restored; I admire what she has become, and I am for her a real father.
It is sometimes difficult for us to believe how certain inextricable situations can unlock. With reason the gospel says: concerning the day and the hour, no one knows it except God. But not knowing the "how" does not prevent us from believing in its possibility, if we really believe that this new Adam foreshadows our world. If God really did not abandon us to ourselves and our follies, if truly risen Jesus represents our future, then everything is possible. Since the evil side of this world is not permanent and the human epic will succeed where all hope seems lost, it is worthwhile to work on it. But is this really our faith?
-André Gilbert, Gatineau, August 2006