Daniel 12: 1-3
Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18
Mark 13: 24-32
One of the favorite themes of science fiction writers and sci fi movies is the end of the world. It is always shown as a series of disasters that will either wipe out all life on this planet, or totally destroy Earth itself. On some of the science cable channels, I have seen computer generated images of the sun going supernova and destroying the planets of our solar system. This is scary stuff, as frightening as the words we have just heard, “…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” Can you imagine how these words may have affected early Christians, or the people of the Middle Ages, in those times before our modern understanding of how the universe works. Because now we have scientists telling us that it will be billions of years before our sun will be close to going to supernova; and unknown billions of years before the universe ceases to exist. So barring some cosmic accident, or some catastrophic natural event, we can all take it easy. Right? Well there is that last statement that Jesus makes in today’s Gospel, “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Now why make this statement? I would suggest that Jesus does not want His followers to be too complacent about how we are or are not living the Gospel life. And this is a constant theme throughout the Scriptures, we must all live in expectation that the Risen Lord will come again into our world; and His coming will forever change our lives. His coming will be awesome! We see this theme of constant expectation in the Old Testament, with the early Israelites, on the night of Passover, they were dressed to move, and they are eating the Passover meal in expectation that something awesome was going to happen in the morning. And it does, the Lord comes and frees His people. In today’s first reading, we see the prophet Daniel, speaking words of encouragement to the Jewish people, whose lands are occupied, the people scattered and under religious persecution. And Daniel is telling the nation, to be ready, for as bad as the times are, the Lord, through his angel Michael, is coming. Something is about to happen, something wonderful, something glorious, something awesome!
So Jesus, in Mark’s Gospel, is telling us, be ready, for the risen Christ is going to return to us, and His coming is not to be feared, but to be look forward to, because His coming is going to be awesome!
And how are we to make ourselves ready for His coming? I would suggest that we try to live our lives in constant expectation of encountering Christ in our daily lives. When we wake up in the morning, we awaken with the expectation that throughout the day, we will encounter Christ. We walk out into the world and see God’s hand in His creation. In every person we meet during the day, whether rich or poor, we may encounter Christ in that person. When we engage in daily prayer and reading Scripture, we open our minds and hearts to Christ. And now, in this place, we are gathered here around this altar, where in a short while, simple bread and wine will be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, We will come forward in expectation of receiving Him, and becoming one with Him, and that will be awesome!