By Deacon Jerry Franzen at CathedralDaniel 12: 1-3 Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18 Mark 13:24-32
“At that time, there shall arise Michael, the great prince.”
“Now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.”
"Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.”
Three lines – one from each of today’s readings.
We are nearing the end of the liturgical year,
and we are being reminded of the so-called “end times.”
Each of those lines gives us a part of that picture.
1. “At that TIME, there shall arise Michael, the great prince.”We have an artist’s conception of that time
right here in the cathedral –
the rightmost panel in the window
above the north entrance.
Michael is that angel with the sword held high.
He is lording it over the devil; the devil is under his foot.
Yes the devil is in one of our windows!
We are talking about the time of the second coming –
the time of the final victory of Christ over evil - the end of time.
TIME is very important to us.
In this day of hustle and bustle, time often seems to go by so quickly;
children and grandchildren seem to grow up too quickly.
If you miss seeing them for as little as a week,
You may have missed a lot.
In just as little as a few years
they go from being children to young adults.
And we shake our heads in amazement and say:
“Where has the time gone?”
We look at ourselves in the mirror every dayand we wonder where our lives have gone.
WE are led to the following attitude:
All those plans we have, all those things we want to do,
while we still can, the ones we keep putting off,
we better do them, because we’re running out of time.
There once was a comic strip character named Snuffy Smith.
He would say “Times a-wasting.”
Sooner or later we all will come face-to-face with the reality that our time is up.
And at sometime later “there shall arise Michael, the great prince.”
II2. “NOW he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.”
The letter to the Hebrews say NOW, the Lord is waiting
for his enemies to be his footstool.
Satan is Michael’s footstool in that window panel.
The Lord and we are NOW waiting for that time.
How does that play out? How do we wait with the Lord?
Look to Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel.
We wait looking for the signs Jesus described.
The final resurrection will not happen
until all the events Jesus mentioned will have taken place.
Apparently, the world will end just as the world was created,
out of chaos.
The early Christians for whom Mark wrote his Gospelwere suffering persecution and probably
couldn’t wait for everything to end.
They looked for the Son of Man to come in the clouds for good
to finally triumph over the evil they were enduring.
They wanted their misery to stop.
Some might wonder if we are seeing these signs NOW,
as if the chaos of the end is about to be upon us.
Consider the mess the world is in:
—many things seem to be collapsing, not just the economy.
Nuclear weapons of mass destruction remain a threat
in a game now with more players than we would like.
The war in the Middle East seems to offer little hope of ending.
The scourge of abortion is unrelenting.
As we have seen in France, the threat of terrorism is ever present.
Advertising trivializes life,
and movies glamorize violence, drugs, and extra-marital sex.
For many of us, this may be the darkest time in history,
and it may look and feel very much like the end time
that Jesus predicted.
But here we are, countless generations and two thousand years later,
and we’re still waiting.
“NOW we wait until his enemies are made his footstool.”
So where does that leave us?3. The third verse: “Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.”
How do these words of Jesus speak to us,
to our generations, and our time?
The truth is that the world as it is now,
and our lives as we are now living them,
are passing away.
Everything in this life,
everything we attach ourselves to, those we love so dearly,
our possessions, our very lives, are deteriorating,
and will eventually come to an end.
And even if the world is not coming to an end any time soon,
our own personal worlds do occasionally collapse,
and we suffer our own apocalypses. —
It might be an irreversible illness or
a disability that stops us from working in our professions.
One of my brother deacons has such a severe form of dementia
that he has had to retire from active ministry
and is able to do very little on his own.
Another deacon and his wife have found that they must postpone
his knee replacement and her two knee replacements,
because she has developed a serious condition with one of her feet.
That condition could make her much less mobile for three months.
The terrorist attacks of yesterday (Friday) in France
might be considered, quite possibly by some, as signs of the chaos
that signals the beginning of the end times.
We could experience failure in our life’s work,
the death of a spouse or child,
rejection by someone we love, abandonment by a friend,
or the loss of a life’s savings.
These drastic changes and these tragediescan seem to them very much like the end of our lives,
the end of the world,
and make us anxious for Christ’s return.
But until then, we cling to the hope
that Our Lord’s teaching is not so much a stern warning
about the end of the world,
but a lesson on living in the world.
True, we must be watching and preparing for the second coming,but we must not let the anticipation
of Christ’s coming in power and glory
blind us to his coming into our lives every day.
He comes to us ceaselessly, each time we come together,
each time his word is proclaimed,
each time his body rests on your hand and on your tongue.
Christ comes to you in each man, woman and child
whose eyes meet yours,
especially in those who hunger for food or justice or love.
The words of Jesus, that he will be with us always
even to the end of time, are not passing away.
We must cherish the past, learn from our mistakes,grieve our losses, and live today as good as we can live it.
Live it as if it were the last day of our lives,
and hold on to the hope-filled vision
that Jesus will never abandon us, never leave us alone.
He will someday return to gather all of his faithful together
and make all things right.
True, we don’t know that time,
but, more importantly,
we do know what to do in the meantime.
We proclaim that knowledge very often;
it is the mystery of our faith that we proclaim.
We say:“We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
and profess your resurrection until you come again.”
“When we eat this bread and drink this Cup,We proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.”