We begin again!
The Year of Mark.
As many have noticed, Mark is shorter in words and a little more blunt in ideas. “Stay Awake” (or as a close long-term friend said to me this night, and now suffering in the hospice, “Francis, give me an exit plan”). In one sense, we begin to discover our Christian Exit Plan this weekend. Yet again, it will take 52 weeks to explore, but each time we set out on the journey, some things will strike us in a way that we never considered before.
Most challenges will be very similar. Wars and rumours of wars, suffering, illness and death to be coped with. Revelation of scandal, bribery and corruption. Stories of rape, murder and brutality. And the list goes on and on.
Against this, the broader thrust of Mark 13 was to remind the community that there was hope. It had been delivered to them in the suffering and death of Jesus. This meant that the world can be transformed. As the Pope remarked to the people of Myanmar “Conciliation, not revenge, is our way.” It is the destiny of all people to reign with Jesus in glory. This gave Mark’s people a horizon of hope with which to measure their current sufferings. If they “stayed awake”, such vigilance would help them to find significance and ethical direction in their actions in the present.
It is true that as Isaiah wrote
“No ear has heard, no eye has seen any god but you act like this for those who trust him.”
The command to be on your guard and to stay awake will surely help us to discover our Exit Plan.
Welcome to Advent 2017.