And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky”
Speculation and anxiety about the end of time and of the world is neither new nor unusual. For centuries, seers and sages and mystical texts—like Nostradamus and the prophecies attributed to St. Malachy—have been making dire predictions about the future. Science, too, has contributed to public anxiety by citing a series of possible scenarios in which the world (at least as we know it) could come to an end through climate change, collision with another celestial body, and even because of the cooling of the sun.
While these grim statistics and “prophecies” can instill a sense of dread in any heart, the Church has consistently placed her focus elsewhere: as we look forward to the coming of Christ at the end of time, we should entrust the unknown and unknowable future to God’s care.
We can’t waste our energies on idle speculation about the future. After all, Jesus himself reminds us that “of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). And so, St. Mark’s vision of the Son of Man “coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (v. 26) can be understood as the climax of the Paschal Mystery: seated at God’s right hand, his work is complete, and he now waits to welcome all who will follow him through death to life (cf. Hebrews 10:12-14).
Jesus has conquered sin and death and this Sunday’s Readings—with their vision of the glorified, all-powerful Son of Man—should be a source of hope as we continue to confront the trials and challenges of life; our prayers this Sunday should also include those Christians who are facing the very harsh reality of persecution because of their faith in Jesus.
|Christ in Majesty by John Piper |
in St. John's Hospital, Lichfield, England
A Prayer for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time +
Grant us, we pray O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to you,
for it is full and lasting happiness
to serve with constancy
the author of all that is good.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)