33rd Sunday in Ordinary time

Today’s gospel is part of quite a long speech by Jesus. It is taken from the thirteenth chapter of St Mark’s gospel. This text is quite complicated, because it’s a mixture of forecasts concerning the downfall of Jerusalem, persecution of the disciples and apparently the end of the world. Actually it’s hard to separate the parts telling about the end of Jerusalem and the end of the time. Many believers at the beginning awaited the return of Jesus very soon. They understood literally these words of Jesus: “before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place”. But that generation passed away; many more generations have passed away, and our world still exists. Just one question arises: “is our world the same as many generations ago?” The answer is obvious. As we are getting older as we begin to think that the world was better in the past. We speak about “the good old times”…

I’m absolutely sure that the mixture of ideas in the thirteenth chapter of St Mark’s gospel is not a coincidence; I would even think it was deliberate. Several years after the forecast given by Jesus it was fulfilled; in the year 70 the Romans crushed the Jewish uprising; the Jews were treated with cruelty, Jerusalem and its Temple were burnt down. That was the end of the Jewish world.

In the past many nations experienced the end of their world: the discovery of the continent of America meant the end of the American Indians’ world; the Russian victory in the World War II meant the end of the world of freedom for many European nations. Many examples could be recalled.

Families and single persons also experience the end of their world. It may be a collapse of a close relationship, serious or terminal illness, sudden death and so on… Apparently happy events might be the end of a well-known world. Soon after my coming to Scotland (which is a happy event) I realised that it was the end of my world. Most of my skills used in Poland turned to be useless here. I realised very quickly that a language is not grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation only, but it’s mainly a means of conveying history and culture, packed with idioms, proverbs and expressions. I’ve been learning many simple things like a child.

Everybody has or will have his or her own end of the world. Some happenings we can avoid, some of them are inevitable. The main message of today’s gospel we find in the words of Jesus about watching the fig tree; its changes announce the coming summer. Changing of seasons is inevitable; but you can prepare yourself for the changing time. We are called to do something similar: to watch carefully the world around us and to watch carefully the world inside us. To see in advance the forthcoming changes because they may announce the end of our private well-known world. Even if it is inevitable, we will have time to prepare ourselves. And as a result we may find rather a new favourable beginning instead of the terrible end of the world.