Fr. Ben Cameron, CPM
Pastor, St. Helen Catholic Church
In the Gospel of Mark this Sunday (the First Sunday of Advent), Our Lord Jesus is answering the question of his Jewish listeners about when the destruction of Jerusalem will take place. Since the Jews could not imagine the destruction of the Temple being a separate event from the end of the world, Jesus speaks mostly about the end of the world, and the “coming of the Son of Man in glory.” He tells us that he will send out his angels to gather his elect from all corners of the world, and both the just and the wicked shall be judged by him. The Lord says that “this generation shall not pass away” until all these things have taken place. It is evident that he was not saying that the end of the world would happen in that generation, but that the “generation of Christians” would not pass away before the coming of Anti-Christ, and then the coming of the Lord as Supreme Judge. In other words: there will always be true Christians, right up until the end of the world.
One of the most confusing things in the Gospel is that Jesus says that neither the angels, nor even the Son, knows the day and the hour at which these things will take place. Since Jesus is God Himself (the Eternal Son of God), he certainly knows all things by his divine knowledge. He speaks in this way to keep the disciples from asking him to tell them exactly when the end will come, for he does not “know” in the sense that he is not to tell us.
Many people over the past couple of centuries have tried to predict when the end of the world will come, and all of them have been wrong. The Lord Jesus doesn’t want us to seek to know exactly when he will come again. The main point of this Gospel is the very end: “what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” If we live our daily lives in readiness for the coming of Christ, then we will have nothing to fear. How do we live in readiness: live every day as if it might be your last day on earth. If you knew that today would be your last day of life, what would you do? Would you commit sin, or act virtuously? Would you pray, or neglect to spend time with God? Would you make peace with your neighbor? Would you tell your spouse, children, or parents that you love them, or would you allow animosity to fester in your heart (or in theirs)? None of us knows the day on which we will leave this world, but we can be prepared for when the “Son of Man comes” whether it is the end of the world, or the end of our lives.
Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ: both his first coming as a little child at Christmas, and his second coming at the end of time. Will you make a good Advent? Will you be prepared?