Mark 13:24-32 | 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
Preparing for Jesus
This week’s gospel focus on the end times is an interesting read for the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Next week, we start preparing for Christ’s initial coming with the season of Advent. But this Sunday, we are given the bookend to Advent in all the “signs” that will occur when Jesus returns.
But, do those signs matter? It’s only human to want to know the future, but the future doesn’t really matter. What matters is right now, who we are right at this moment. And that, I believe, is what Scripture is telling us: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels…nor the Son, but only the Father” (v. 32). If we spend all our time looking for signs, which only God knows, we miss the opportunity to be the person God wants us to be right now.
It has taken me a long time to understand this.
Not that I looked for end-of-the-world signs, but I have looked endlessly for the “path” God wants me on, the “plan He has for me” (paraphrased from Jeremiah 29:11). In this search, I wonder if I have squandered opportunities to be the person He wants me to be in the moment.
If we work to be the people God wants us to be in this moment, then we’ll be ready whenever Jesus comes—whether He comes as a Baby in a manger or descends on a cloud. The people we know who were “ready” when Jesus came the first time were Mary and Joseph, the poor shepherds, the wealthy pagan wise men from the East, Elizabeth, and the baby John. I’d even say the innkeeper was ready. After making room in the stable, that innkeeper, whether he or she ever understood the identity of the Baby, was the face of God to an unknown pregnant woman about to give birth.
Making space for people is what gets us ready for Jesus, whenever and however He returns.
Everything Jesus did was to make space for people. Healing them so they could function as a part of society. Understanding them so they could grasp their value being made in the image of God. Teaching them so they could have a place in God’s Kingdom. Dying on the cross so they could understand the true meaning of the Messiah. That’s what Jesus wants from us—to make room for all His children.
In some cases, that’s a tall order, and we won’t always be successful. But we will certainly miss the people God has put in our path if we spend our time staring up to see if the sun has “darkened” or if “the stars [are] falling from the sky” (v. 24-25).
When we’re instructed to “Be watchful!” (v. 33), what God wants is for us to be alert to our fellow humans. None of us know when Jesus will come again; we can only know what God has put right in front of us. That’s what He wants us to be “alert” to, so when Jesus does return, we can be as ready as humanly possible.