In this Sunday’s gospel, Mark 13:1-8, Jesus seems to offer both words of caution and words of reassurance. He first prophesies that “all will be thrown down” (verse 2). Destruction is coming. He then encourages them, in the midst of destruction, and other chaos, “do not be alarmed” (verse 7).
New Testament scholars tend to regard Jesus’ words as referring to the horrific Roman siege and annihilation of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 AD. These events, Jesus intimates, are signs of an impending cataclysm in advance of which the prudent will hastily flee to the hinterlands. Yet, in the midst of it all, Jesus’ disciple, Jesus’ friends, need not worry. This is not simply because they have been forewarned. This is because of Jesus’ faithful, steady, and strong presence.
Jesus’ presence is so strong that, through the brokenness and chaos of our lives, He can communicate His love, He rejoins us. In the two weeks since my arrival at Ascension and Saint Agnes, on three occasions, by three members of our parish community, I heard used, to describe the challenges of these past couple of years, the word “upheaval”. I am led to believe that this gospel may shed particular light for us. Does Jesus not tell us very directly that we need not worry? We have been joined, by grace, to the mystery of God, and nothing can separate us. Indeed, as St. Paul tells us, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 8:38-39)
This year’s stewardship campaign is off to an amazing start. I cannot help but think that such moving generosity is an expression of trust in Jesus’ faithful, steady, and strong presence. We can dare to believe that the challenges that we have experienced (and there will inevitably be more!) may, in fact, be the birth pangs of the New Creation. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your trust.