33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
We are coming not only to the end of the Church’s year – next Sunday is the feast of Christ the King which marks the last Sunday in the year – it is also the end of Mark’s Gospel as Jesus approaches Jerusalem where He will be crucified. When Mark wrote his Gospel there was widespread oppression and persecution of the Christian community in Rome and no doubt they were wondering if the end was near – life was that uncertain.
Mark has Jesus giving his vision of the future which starts off seemingly depressing and negative – terror, trouble, persecution and darkness. Very importantly, however, Jesus then goes on to say that the Son of Man will come and gather us all to Him – don’t we all love a happy ending!
How does this Gospel sit with us? No doubt we can all remember times when things have gone pear-shaped, things have gone wrong or even been the opposite of what we had hoped or come to expect. There will have been things or people we had taken for granted, change that we had not anticipated or welcomed. There will have been things we thought we could never manage without, never survive, but we did. Maybe we didn’t do it in the way we had previously or in a way we had anticipated but we achieved something. In the process we became different people because, thanks to God, we survived, we grew, we matured and maybe it even gave us the strength to help and understand others and their difficulties.
The fig tree appears as a sign/ symbol of hope. Small shoots appear at first perhaps but there are definitely good signs. We may not recognise the signs at first but they are there: sometimes we just need to look a little harder. Jesus reassures us that His words will never pass away – do we believe that? Do I help get this message across to others?
We live, as others have before us, in uncertain times. It would be very easy to list all the negatives in the world at the moment but perhaps our challenge this week is to look for, and be, the signs of hope in the world.
Sr. Margaret Mattison