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November 14, 1997     The Message
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November 14, 1997

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14 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Signs of the last days: The return of Jesus in By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel commentary for Nov. 16: Thirty-third Sunday, Ordinary Time, Cycle B: Mark !3:24-32. As winter approaches, the liturgy reminds us every year of that section of the gospels that deals with the end of time and the return of Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark this subjecttakes up all of chapter thirteen. This chapter is known as "The Little Apocalypse," because it contains themes similar to a much longer New Testament book, The Book of Revelation, which is also known as "The Apocalypse." The word "apoca- lypse" is derived from a Greek verb meaning "to unveil," i. e. to reveal events of the near future. Our Church reserves two Sundays for this unveiling, today and the first Sunday of Advent, two weeks from now. Much of New Testament literature is full of antic- ipation of Jesus' return, the final judgment, the end of time. The return of Jesus was known by the technical term, "parousia," meaning "advent, coming, return, visit." Enthusiasm among Christians for the parousia was rampant in earliest Christianity. It is a theme that runs through Paul's letters and letters attributed to Paul. In the earliest letter of Paul known to us he describes with confidence how the end will come about. By the time he wrote his last letter known to us, the Letter to the Romans, he doesn't seem to be quite so sure. Of our four gospels Mark is the most certain of an impending parousia. It is Mark's creation of a one-year ministry of Jesus that sets the pattern for both Matthew and Luke, even though a one-year ministry is ex- tremely unlikely. Mark's Jesus has to hurry to get it all in within the short time allotted. That impression is heightened by Mark's constant use of the word "imme- I I u I- -I I ,= Bicknela I CORRESSELL, INC, [ Sandborn | HEATING AIR CONDITIONING __ ,... _ Monroe City I REFRIGERATION ,mbanK Princeton I .......  =" Patoka I Commercial - Industrial - Residential Member F,.D.I.C. Alan Corressell 426-1440 TFs Traylor Fertilizer Service, Inc. Box 68 Montgomery, Indiana 47558 Donald J. Traylor President" Phone: 486-3285 diately," (42 times). Mark must have expected a quick end and the return of Jesus just as Paul had proclaimed. When the awaited end did not occur, the later gospels of Matthew and Luke, just as later letters of the New Testament, had to cope with the crisis of of faith caused by this non-event. The solution, the parousia has been delayed. For some authors the reason is simple, God allows more time for repentance or God' s measure- ment of time is not the same as ours. Those reasons are as good as any, while none of them make any sense. The Scriptures do speak of God as repenting or having a change of mind from time to time, but that is only a human way of speaking and could not touch the reality of an infinite Being incapable of change. Facts have to be faced. Our New Testament authors were all mistaken on the matter of the quick return of Jesus. It does not help to try to explain that they were actually talking about a later time. All New Testament literature arose out of and was written for a Christian community of the first and early second centuries. The authors were talking primarily to those people of those times. Therefore our New Testament documents tell us more about the past than about the future. They tell us what Christian people thought and authors proclaimed at a time when Christianity was emerging. Thus they tell us that many Christians of the first century expect- ed the end very soon and leaders like Paul and Mark proclaimed exactly that. From Paul's trumpets and rap- ture to Mark's catastrophes in the heavens and on earth, all were expected in their generation. It is misleading for people like Pat Robertson and Hal Lindsey and fundamentalist preachers to keep proclaiming that the end is at hand. They only feed the frenzy of doomsday cults and deceive the faithful. The "signs" such as earthquakes, floods, celestial catastrophes, famine and wars have always happened and will probably continue to happen as long as humanity inhabits this planet. CUSTOM PROCESSING MERKLEY & SONS PACKING CO,, INC. 3994 W. 180 N. 482-7020 Novemt Are the Scriptures then in error? tinue to scream that there are no errors in have never studied the Bible. The) and memorized it. It is necessary to biblical material between the human elements, between human words and the word, between the vehicle and what tains, between the medium and the God is a hidden God, and perhaps Scriptures. Revelation is clothed in and in different forms of human litE ry, fable, history, legend, myth. The when reading a story or other Bible is not, "Is this true?" but "What or "What message of revelation has be conveyed by this human Human authors did not lose their human when chosen by God to convey his were left to their own devices, but Christian affirms with faith that no human error might be found, in there can be no error. Therefore, come as expected in and for the tians to whom New Testament at predictions, what could be the message dictions? Rather than the second understood as heralded by not accept that Jesus comes to us a through Word and sacrament? Above of our apocalypses can be ready at any and all times to meet the One believe will judge them and Father's house of many rooms." Our liveS! thread, and the end may indeed be at time. Thus Mark's ending to his Little still valid: "WATCH!" Readings: Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews AUTO RATES INCREASING? TEENAGE DRIVERS? 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