THIRTY THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B: November 18th, 2012.
Dear Sinead and Mark,
Did you watch any of the London Olympics, this year? Did you by any chance watch any of the opening ceremony, and the spectacle that it was, the story it told. Did you see the Queen with James Bond? Hilarious and a great surprise to all. (Find it on Youtube).
Weeks later, I stumbled one night on the final
hour of the opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games,- with Stephen Hawking and a wonderful celebration of the human mind, of human capacities to overcome all sorts of obstacles in life, of the openness to discovery and wonder, led by the gentle figure of Miranda. It was awe-inspiring and uplifting for the human spirit, to see men and women with so many physical challenges rising to great achievements.
What’s that got to do with the sayings of Jesus that are put before us in this Sunday’s readings (Mark 13:24-32)? The setting is the Tuesday of the last week of his life, just before he begins his Passion. He takes leave of Jerusalem, goes across the valley, and sits there with Peter, James, John and Andrew, looking across at the beauty of the city of Jerusalem. In his farewell words, he warns the disciples of very tough times ahead for them. And Mark wrote all this down about 30 years later, when in fact the disciples were being hunted down, brought to trial, and executed for their faith. Like today, in different places and ways.
Then Jesus tells them that in a future time, unknown to everyone, he himself will be revealed as who he truly is,- the Son of Man, the Son of God among us in all his humanity and ours. It will be pretty awesome when he is revealed in his glory.
And that happens on a personal level as well. People meet Jesus in many ways. In the Gospel, the shepherds met him in a tiny manger: the blind man (Bartimaeus, whom we met a couple of weeks ago) met him when he cried out ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!’: Peter, James and John met him up on the mountain when Jesus was ‘transfigured’ and his clothes were whiter than white, and the dark cloud was over their heads, and they heard ‘This is my beloved Son, listen to him’. Thomas, the one we call Doubting Thomas, met him when Jesus asked him to put his finger into his wounds, and his hand into his side, and feel the wounds of the Passion,- and Thomas burst out ‘My Lord and my God!’. Saul, who hated every disciple with a passion, met Jesus on the road to Damascus, when he was blinded by a vision of Jesus. Two disciples met Jesus after a long walk with him on Easter Sunday afternoon,
when they sat across the table at Emmaus and Jesus broke bread for them. So you see, sometimes it’s an awesome moment, and sometimes it’s very simple and quiet, but profound all the same.
A friend of mine, a few years ago, was on retreat for a weekend with about 60 others, and it was profound for many of us. When she arrived home on Sunday evening, she was radiant with joy. Her nine-year old son looked at her, and said to her ‘Mommy, I know what happened to you. You met Jesus!’ And it was true.
Meeting Jesus, coming face to face with him, is awesome, whether it be on my bike, in my room, in the bus or car, whether my eyes are opened at the manger, or on the road, at the cross, or in the Eucharist. Meeting him is earth-shaking.
When Jesus is revealed in his humanity and glory, to the world or to any one person, nothing is the same afterwards. He’ll be someone to die for!
Have a great week, Mark, Sinead.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org