Reflection for Sunday November 15 – Irene Goodwin
Fifty years ago the Beatles sang, “Do you want to know a secret; do you promise not to tell?”
In our Gospel for this weekend Mark the evangelist is letting us in on a secret as we read of Jesus sharing a secret with the disciples: There will be cosmic upheaval that will include conflict and persecution. Some will lose faith; those who persevere will be saved.
Both the Hebrew Scripture reading from Daniel and the Gospel reading from Mark include this kind of apocalyptic literature. We know that God made creation out of chaos. These readings tell of a return to chaos, which is a sign of the reversal of the order of creation. Ancient Israelites believed such a reversal would occur before the birth of a new age. This is the scene Jesus is describing.
In Daniel we read that in the new age some people will continue to shine. They will be like stars in heaven. It is a vision of hope and challenge and it is what Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for. Disciples are insiders. They know the story; however, we will remember they do not always get it. Then they become outsiders. They do not understand. They will reject a suffering Messiah, seek a place of honor, betray Jesus, deny Jesus, flee when he dies. Insiders become outsiders.
You and I are insiders. However, there are times when we do not understand and become outsiders. These are the times we do not trust in our loving, merciful God.
As far as the end of the world coming, we have heard it before: wars, storms, total chaos. In the news we hear of fires and mud slides in the west, floods in the south not seen for a thousand years. Thousands risk their lives to find safety across the Syrian border. We read of clashes with Russia on how to deal with the rebels in Syria. Almost daily we hear of attacks that could be from terrorists. Too often we read of young people marching into our schools and shooting innocent people.
There are days we might claim, like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, “Wouldn’t now be a good time for the Messiah to come?”
Jesus spoke of the end coming in his disciples’ lifetime. The world did not end; however, life as they knew it changed. We can only imagine that he was speaking more of a turn in life—that upheaval and chaos would come when he is killed. The disciples left everything to follow a messiah who would hang on a cross. All they had hoped for, gone. They would endure persecution from family, friends, and the Roman government. They did have faith; they did get their act together and they do shine like stars in the sky.
Today we do hear of the love of God coming shining through. Men and women go into fires to save lives and homes. People search for days for those lost in floods. We see pictures of people on beaches risking their lives to go into the ocean to pull a boat full of men, women and children safely onto the shore. We see the teacher who runs in front of gunfire to save students. These men and women shine the light of Christ in our lives and give us hope. In our Church today we have the finest example of sharing the love of God with others. In his simple way, Pope Francis reaches out to people hurting the most in our midst. In doing that, he touches the souls of everyone around him, including the U.S Congress.
Is that the message for you and me? Our worlds turn many different times in our lives. We change schools; we are not welcomed; and we feel we have no friends. Do we let the chaos overwhelm us or walk out in faith? Perhaps we reach out to others who feel unwelcomed.
We lose a job. Our family depends on us. All is in an upheaval. We can let the chaos overwhelm us or have faith that all will be well. Maybe we start a group where those who have lost jobs can support each other.
Our health fails; we can no longer run a marathon or even walk to the next room. Our eyesight dims; we can no longer drive a car; our life is turned up-side down. How can we respond in faith? Can we write cards or make calls to someone who might be lonely?
The closest person in our life dies; the person we depend on physically and spiritually. Nothing will ever be the same. There is a feeling of absolute chaos. How can we even think of tomorrow? We rely on our faith in God. Each day we take one step forward, perhaps meeting with others who have also had significant loss.
We have to remember Jesus has shared a secret with us. Let him come closer, whisper in your ear. Hear the words you long to hear: “I’m in love with you.” Sometimes, our faith in a loving God is the only thing that can bring us out of chaos into God’s marvelous light.