The Good Word for Sunday November 15th ~ for the complete Sunday readings click here.
“Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ” This Sunday at Mass we are all going to say this phrase together following this somewhat horrifying piece of scripture. In case you didn’t read the gospel before reading this reflection, Jesus says things like, “The sun will be darkened,” and “the moon will not give it’s light,” and “stars will be falling from the sky,” and “this generation will not pass away before these things have taken place.”
Yikes. People have long been afraid of the end of the world. R.E.M even had a top forty hit with the song, “It’s the End of the World (and I feel fine)” poking fun at those fearful of the end times.
So why does Jesus say these things? Believe it or not, but these words were probably comforting to the first people whoever read them. The gospel of Mark was written for a community of Christians who were being heavily persecuted by the Roman Empire. Those hearing these words would have understand that what was being said was a promise, a relief, and a call to hope in a future free of persecution.
Can you imagine living in fear that you or your family would be arrested, tortured, or killed just because you are Catholic? What if you had to attend Mass in secret, in the middle of the night? What would life be like if any day your next-door neighbor could turn you in for being a follower of Jesus? Now that is scary.
This is was the reality of life for the people who first read Mark’s gospel. For that reason, the idea that this too shall pass, that Jesus was coming again and soon was comforting. When the early Christians heard that the way the world was going to end, well, that was actually a message of hope.
Christian persecution is happening right now in 2015. Daily there are Christian martyrs, people killed, just for being Christian. Reports of whole towns being burned to the ground and men, women, and children being killed for their Christianity keep making the news.
When we hear the words of the gospel this weekend, instead of reacting in fear of the horrifying image of the last days, let us instead pray for our Catholic and Christian brothers and sisters for whom and end of the current age would be a welcome sight.
1) Learn about Christian persecution. Start by reading this short article about Pope Francis and Christian Persecution.
2) Pray for all persecuted Christians today.
Want to learn more? Check out the CNEWA.