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November 29, 1996     The Message
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November 29, 1996

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana "-Commentary .-. year of grace begins: A look to the future GOspel Commentary for 1996: First Sunday B: Mark 13:33- The Church's "year of grace" with the first Sunday of Word "Advent" is a  Latin word adven -ailing "a - " presence, an a destination." ry transla- gospels into chose the word Usual translation J By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST Word "parousia," which literature became the technical return of Jesus and the inauguration of rule over creation. The Church for this first Sunday of Advent of the final return of Jesus. gospel reading is part of Jesus' final Ospel of Mark. This sermon is eschatological discourse" because it intervention in the world. The derived from two Greek Word about final things." This s the thirteenth chapter This chapter is also called ause of its similarity to New Testament, the Book of 13 and Revelation use language from the Old Testament Book Mark 13 and Revelation are Consolation of a community of persecution and martrydom for and practices. For Daniel this community consisted of the pious Jews of Palestine in mid-second century B.C. For Mark it is the Christian community at Rome which has just undergone a devas- tating persecution by Ceasar Nero in the mid sixties of the first centu- ry A.D. For the Book of Revelation the persecuted community consists mainly of the Christian Churches of that part of the Roman empire then known as the Province of Asia and known to us as Turkey. That perse- cution took place in the last decade of the first century under Emperor Domitian. It was Nero's persecution among other factors that led to the writing of the Gospel of Mark. It is only a few years after the persecution that Mark 13 assures the Christians at Rome that what they had suffered was all in the divine plan that would come to a climax with the return of a glorious and tri- umphant Jesus. Borrowing from Old Testament prophets who spoke of a terrifying "day of the Lord" when Yahweh would smash the enemies of the Jew- ish people, Mark writes approximately in the year 70 A.D. He attributes to Jesus statements about natural catastrophes and manmade catastrophes including persecution from religious and civil authorities and betrayal by Christians of one anoth- er. Mark writes with hindsight but in this way explains that the horrors that came upon the Chris- tian Church at Rome were all in the divine plan. When Mark attributes to Jesus a statement that Jesus would not return before the Gospel had been preached to all nations, he reflects what Paul and others believed had already taken place, that the Gospel had already been preached to "every creature under the sky," Colossians 1:23. This'and the catastrophes of earthquake, famine, war, and persecution that fundamentalists today always interpret as signs of the imminent return of Jesus had already taken place-and were so interpreted by Mark when he wrote his gospel in 70 AD. And so there be nothing new under the sun and today's fundamentalist interpreters know no more, about the return of Jesus than did the author of the Gospel of Mark. Jesus did not return and Luke and Matthew later corrected the Gospel of Mark in this matter. Even Mark already admits that no human being knows the answer. What therefore shall we draw from the Church's emphasis on looking to the future on this first Sunday of Advent? Exactly what today's gospel-reading tells us: "What I say to you ! say to all: 'Watch!'" Once we understand that the descrip- tions in the gospels of the catastrophes preceding the return of Jesus are no more than borrowings from Old Testament statements describing the hoped-for intervention of Yahweh in the triumph of, the Jewish people, and no more than a description of what had already happened to civil society and first-century Christians, we should admit our total ignorance of the return of Jesus and apply our vigi- lance to preparing to meet Jesus at our own death. Let us not look to the sky for Jesus riding on the clouds but rather into ourselves, our own words and deeds, as preparation for our final meeting with our God. For those who lead a good life this meeting is not a matter of fear but of joyful anticipation, the kind of joy earliest Christians expressed when they shouted their prayer: "Maranatha!," i.e. "Our Lord! Come on/" Readings: Isaiah 63:16b.17,I9b; I Corinthi. ans 1:3.9. National Headquarters 3525 Hampton Ave. St. Louis, Missouri 63139 Tom Bowman Serving Southern Indiana 100800-210-9774 OlnPare These Lzfe Insurance Rates Annual Renewable Term (Monthly Rates) MALE OVerage Amounts $50,000 6.88 6.88 7.33 8.92 11.50 15.58 23.09 35.38 57.17 92.34 $100,000 10.25 FEMALE Coverage Amounts $50,000 5.83 $100,000 8.17 10.25 6.17 8.83 11.17 6.79 10.08 14.33 8.38 AGE $25,000 25 3.96 30 4.13 35 4.44 40 5.23 45 6.35 50 7.88 55 10.33 60 13.33 65 19.92 70 29.63 19.50 27.17 41.42 64.59 10.63 13.67 13.25 17.75' 23.34 24.59 37.75 18.58 32.42 43.00 105.84 172.51 57.17 67.01 102171 ages and coverage amounts available upon request. Illustrated rates are and coverage amounts (non-smoker). Smokers' rates are higher. z8 Term Life Insurance is just one of several impressive products we carry. Ask About our Whole Life or Vision Life/" CALL TODAY TOM BOWMAN 1-800-210-9774 Policy for youths. Ages 0-21 $10,000 coverage only $2.09 per month. Cyril and Antoinette (Kunkel} Birge of Jasper will celebrate their sixtiethwedding amaiversary with a Mass of Thanks: giving at 4 p.m. Nov. 30 at St. Joseph Church, Jasper.Adin- her for the immediate family will follow at the ScIinitzel- bank in Jasper. The couple was married Nov. 5, 1936, at St. Joseph Church by Father Basil Huesler. They are the par- ents of nine children: Judy Calley of Miami, Fla., Jerry Birge of Owensboro, Bill Birge of Jasper, Jane Birge of Neder- land, Tex., Jim Birge of Jasper, Betty Anderson of Muncie, John Birge and Kathy Eckerle, of Jasper, and Bob Birge of Indianapolis. They have 24 grandchildren, and 14 great- grandchildren. Mr. Birge, a 1995 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, retired in 1985 after 20 years as a school sales representative for Gus Doerner Sports. Mrs. Bilge is also retired from {]us Goerner Sports.