He Will Make Of You A New Creation
Brothers and Sisters,
The gospel of Mark (13: 24-32) can be scary this week since Jesus paints a breath taking view of his return to glory as Lord of the Universe. But don’t be put off by this since the tribulation of the first verse is replaced by a creative gathering at the end. The style is an apocalyptical poem since this is the only form that adequately conveys the momentous events that are to come. Two senses predominate the scene: sight and sound.
The transforming dark chaos into a vision of order and light is essential to this event. The repetition of the word “and” and the shattering events that follow is the main rhetorical feature that Mark uses and a certain rhythm hurtles the poem forward as well of the future tense of all the verbs. The last nine words of the poem all include the letter Omega, referring to Jesus who is the first (Alpha) and last (Omega) even of the alphabet. And this helps to plant this vision in reality. The poem starts from the highest heavens and gradually comes down to earth. And then Jesus gathers his elect and brings them back to heaven who are now part of his glory.
What does this mean for us? In the middle of trials and tribulations of life God will bring you peace and make you a new person, a new creation. I saw it this week at the funeral of an eight month stillborn baby girl. The parents while visibly suffering were able to speak with faith. They had the conviction that their daughter was in heaven, like an angel, and that is their mission as parents: to bring their kids to God, was fulfilled. It wasn’t what they would have liked to see but they realized that God was acting. Amidst the tribulations he was gathering the elect into his kingdom.
Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses, does something similar when she brings her cymbals into the desert. She explained to her brother that God will do something that would cause us to celebrate and so she needed them. There were many things in the desert that was cause for celebration: manna, quail, and water in abundance. This gospel of the Second Coming gives meaning to our lives and to all of history. So why are you afraid of sickness or lack of money or being overwhelmed at work? Christ overcomes every suffering and makes all things new.
The poem began in tribulation with the sun and moon darkened and the stars quaking and it concludes with Christ’s glory and sweetness of a mighty angelic trumpet call. His glory is so overpowering that it darkens both the sun, the moon and the stars. It is as if they cover their faces in awestruck reverence like a maid-n-waiting who casts her eyes down to the ground as the queen arrives. It is like a liturgy where all are made clean.
Then Jesus turns from the apocalyptical to the homeyness of a fig tree. The apostles, and us, can breathe again. Their friend is here the one who was riding on the clouds and is the same one who spoke of the tender leaves budding forth, and who is sending his angels out with a trumpet call. He is the same one who dwells with you and me.
From the fig tree learn the parable which is how it is phrased in the original language. It means that every person or event of life can be a parable for us. What is that event or person saying to you? As you know the summer is near when you see the leaves on a tree sprout, so is Christ near to us. As the laws of nature govern the trees and flowers so too must you count absolutely on Christ’s words and promises. His words will not pass away. Jesus is saying, rely on my words as you do on the certainty that you see in nature. In the darkest hour this event only speaks of me and my return to glory, don’t despair, don’t give it or try to escape your reality.
As the summer is near so is he near to the gates of your heart and he so ardently desires you. The lord is gathering his elect from the four winds to take his Bride to himself. Figs evoke an atmosphere of bridal love. Behold brothers and sisters, the Bridegroom is here!