The Sun will die.

November 18 Sunday Readings.

william-malott-721211-unsplashLast winter in the middle of a 4 day period where the high temperature in Minnesota was below zero the entire time, my thermostat stopped working. We had installed a new fancy, smart thermostat, but the intense and lasting cold was too much for it, and it’s software malfunctioned. A thermostat isn’t something I think about too often, I just expect it to work. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we depend upon it working without really worrying about whether it will or not. 

In the gospel Jesus says, “In those days after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” The sun is another thing we just depend upon for light and heat. Without it, we would die. We don’t think about it too much and I think even fewer of us worry about whether or not it will rise in the morning. Yet, when it is darkened, it is a big deal (see total eclipse from 2017). 

Jesus says that the very things we depend upon every day, the very things we rarely think about but depend on for our very existence will be go away. On the one hand that is a horrifying prediction, but that’s not the whole story. jorge-vasconez-285707-unsplash

What Jesus is really saying is that even when something as necessary and as basic as the light from the sun and moon is taken away, he will still be there to save us. The light and heat from the sun is something we can’t imagine living without. Yet, Jesus promises that at the end of time, if that will be taken away and we will be okay because he will come to save us. 

In other words, do we put more trust in the sun or in Jesus? Do we depend more upon the heat and light of the sun than we depend on the saving love of Jesus Christ? It’s a crazy thing to ask ourselves. But that is the radical call to faith that Jesus asks of us – Depend on and trust more in Jesus than even the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky. The celestial bodies can’t save you, but Jesus will. 

LIVE IT:
Whether you are awake in the morning to see the sun rise or you witness the sun set (which in MN is about 4 in the afternoon), turn your mind to God and pray something simple like, “Jesus I depend upon you, more than the sun and the moon. I depend on you.”

Good News?

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.

Live It:
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.