Thursday of Lent 4 – Mark 13:1-13

| March 21, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Mark 13:1-13

The situation that Jesus describes seems remotely close and familiar.  It stretches back to the first century A.D. and all the way into my little study here in Tyler, Texas in the 21st century (it still seems cool and futuristic to me to say that I live in the 21st century!)  What Jesus described is a world that is now, but is not yet complete.  It is the bittersweet life that greets me every morning and tucks me into bed every night.

I don’t know why we keep expecting to wake up one morning and have everything be perfect.  For that to happen, I think, I’d have to die and be resurrected (I’m ready, Lord, when you are!)  I think there’s a reason why life continues to be so difficult at times, even when it is so sweet.  It’s rather like the people in our lives, isn’t it!

Actually, it’s encouraging in an odd way, this talk of Jesus about wars, earthquakes, famines, and about troubles, persecution and exsynagoguation, because it means that I haven’t somehow missed the boat.  There’s not anything wrong with me that isn’t also wrong with the whole world, even the renewed world that Christ is in the process of redeeming.

The first century Christians had these difficulties and sufferings, and so do I.  The truth is that my sufferings pale in comparison to those experienced by many Christians in the early Church and in comparison to many Christians in the world today.  And yet suffer I do, in a number of ways, and I’m sure you do to.

And yet even in the midst of the calamities of which Jesus speaks, He also speaks about things more hopeful.  The gospel of Jesus Christ which began with a few good men and seemed nearly extinguished on Calvary will, in the end, be preached to all the nations.  Take this as literally as you want: in some ways this may have been fulfilled much earlier than we expected.  But I do know this: that the gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to spread throughout the world, and Jesus Christ has appointed us, His Body, to do that preaching.

I don’t believe that we can directly translate all of Jesus’ words to us, as some believe.  I’m not convinced that if I only trust the Lord in all circumstances (without doing my part), then He’ll give me the words to say.  I’ve seen a lot of balderdash and flimflam (not to mention poppycock, hokum, and baloney) spoken on the basis that speaking in the Spirit is speaking without being prepared.  And yet I do believe that the grace of God is manifested in those who humble themselves before Him.  It just so happens that the hard work of actually preparing a sermon is a more humble endeavor than winging it in the Spirit!  It actually requires more faith (seen as faithfulness) because I have to actually have the faith that God works through my weak and inadequate humanity, instead of just zapping me and bypassing my personality and spirit altogether.  I do believe that those who have practiced submitting themselves to the Lord day in and day out will be guided by His Spirit on the day of the big test.

Jesus seems to summarize both sides of this life, both the suffering and the sweetness, in verse 13 when He says, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.”  A life in which there are wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters and man-made ones, persecution and suffering and the anguish of severed relationships requires something more than a flimsy and facile faith that expects all our boo boos to get better overnight.  Such a life requires an adamantine faith, the kind that can only be found in Jesus Christ Himself.

Stretched between the hope of glory on the one hand and the reality of suffering on the other hand, we assume the position of the Cross, on which we are suspended as Christians.  It is here, in this painful and vulnerable position, united to our Lord, that we are most able to know Him and please Him and do His holy will until He returns.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, who stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name.  Amen.

Point for Meditation:

1.  In what ways do you experience suffering in this life?  Practice hoping for deliverance from them. 

2.  In what ways do you experience joy and blessing in this life?  Practice giving thanks for them.

Resolution:  I resolve to take one source of suffering in my life today and use it as a means of meditating on my Lord: His suffering, His presence with me, or His salvation in my life. 

 

© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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Category: Give Us This Day

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