CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Called to be angels of joy and hope

At the beginning of chapter 13, Mark the evangelist recalls the words of the Lord not to be deceived by the foolish discourses of those who preach the imminent end of the world: “Don’t let anyone mislead you. When you hear of wars and threats of war, don’t be troubled: this must occur, but the end is not yet” (Mark 13:5-8). 
 
Continuing from there, Jesus takes many images in today’s gospel not to frighten the disciples, but to console them. Plagues, famines, violence and persecutions which they must confront are signs of a world still dominated by evil, but the end of this painful reality has already been decreed and its decline has begun. Immediately after the eclipse of these oppressive idols, there appears, with the clouds of heaven and with great power and glory, the Son of Man to establish the kingdom (v.26). 
 
The Son of Man “will send the angels to gather his chosen people from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky” (v.27).
 
The meaning of the image of the “angels gathering the elect from the four winds” is the announcement of a judgment; there is no mention of any punishment; the message is anything but threatening. It is the comforting answer given by Mark to his communities who are going through persecutions, harassments and killings. 
 
To those Christians who are tempted to give up, Mark recalls the promise made by Jesus: the Son of Man will not allow them to be lost; through his angels he will gather them from the four winds—a symbol of the four cardinal points—and then will gather them from all the earth.
 
In the Bible, the term angel is applied to anyone who becomes a tool in the hands of the Lord in favour of man. Moses who led Israel in the wilderness is called “angel” (Exodus 23:20, 23). Angels of the Lord are those who cooperate with God’s plan.
 
The second part of the passage (vv.28-32) answers the question that spontaneously comes after hearing the consoling message that the kingdom of evil has come to an end and that the Son of Man will gather the elect in his kingdom: when will this happen?  The answer is given by the image of the fig tree (v.28), the last of the trees to get their leaves. When these begin to appear, the farmer feels that summer is approaching and enjoys thinking about the abundant crops. Only the Father, and no one else knows the day and hour when the kingdom of God will have its fulfillment (v.32). Christians need to cultivate the sensitivity and the watchful eye of the farmer who knows how to capture the signs of the new season.
 
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ 
Claretian Publications
    https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/11/11/33rd-sunday-in-ordinary-time-november-18-2018-year-b/
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF