This Sunday (33rd in Ordinary Time) and next (Feast of Christ the King) our readings focus on the transformation of creation and our world into the Reign of God. This reign was the focus of the mission of Jesus. After his baptism by John in the Jordan he came out of the desert filled with God`s spirit and began his mission with these words: “The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:14)
Matthew and Luke show this same proclamation of good news as Jesus begins his mission. (Matt.4:17; Luke 4:18) The Kingdom of God has come, it is good news and it calls for transformation and change by all. Looking at our own life experience we recognize that significant change often can be difficult. To transform our life involves letting go of what we are accustomed to and taking up something new and unfamiliar. It often leaves us uncomfortable and may lead to our resisting it.
The Gospels are full of such resistance to the message and the mission of Jesus. His words and actions can be s unnerving to us as they were for those who heard and witnessed them. But Jesus was presenting the message of God’s reign, the dream of God. It was a message of hope for a world of peace, harmony, love and justice. Jesus is the face of God`s mercy and love for all.
This is the mission Jesus handed on to us, his disciples. In Mark`s Gospel this Sunday we hear Jesus speaking words and images that might sound threatening and ominous. He talks about a “time of suffering”. This is followed by a loss of light, a darkening of the sun and the moon. “The powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (Mark 13:24-32) These are all images from the Old Testament, signs that the current reality will be changed. Mark goes on to describe the coming of the “Son of Man… with power and glory.” The time of suffering and darkness gives way to the time of fulfillment. All of this is to assert an experience, not of destruction but of change, change that brings life and love as God’s dream.
In keeping with what Jesus brought in word and action as the face of God’s mercy and love, these images show a radical transformation to all of creation. The kingdom is near, among us. What it needs is the work to recognize it in our relationships, our institutions and our political and social realities. Then we are the disciples on the mission of Jesus – building the Kingdom that is God’s dream for all creation.
What can I do to build the Kingdom that is God’s dream? How do I bring mercy and love into my world?