RCL Year B, Proper 28 (Alternate Readings)
Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-14 and 19-25, Saint Mark 13:1-8

Before we arrive in Jerusalem and address Jesus and his disciples, I would like to lay a foundation for today’s Gospel.

Being a mature Christian requires fortitude and a certain faith many of us do not naturally have. That fortitude and that faith may be described this way. To perceive Good Friday as Good requires that fortitude and that faith. To be able to see the brutal and unjust killing of the Son of God at the hands of sinners as a good thing escapes some people who need to earn their fortitude and learn their faith. Over and over the Almighty takes events that appear to be bad to bring about providentially a richer way of life. Captivity in Egypt providentially morphs into liberation and freedom, power and autonomy given by the hand of a loving and merciful Creator. The destruction of Jerusalem, including the Temple, in 586 BC, morphs into a return to the Law of Moses, a rebirth of devotion to that Law, a reconstruction and expansion of the Temple, and a standing in the world previously unknown.

The Gospel today takes place on the eve of one of these cataclysmic events that God will providentially morph into a richer way of life. Jesus has finished his teaching, healing, and pastoral ministry. He has triumphally entered Jerusalem for his final confrontation with the pharisees, sadducees, and the scribes. He plans providentially to lose the confrontation and voluntarily accepts the unjust punishment of crucifixion for trumped up crimes and blasphemies.

The disciples do not yet have the fortitude and the faith to see these events as a necessary gateway to the richer life to be given to them afterwards.

Jesus has told his disciples that the large stones and the large buildings will be thrown down just as he has predicted to them his passion, death, and resurrection several times previously. Peter, James, John, and Andrew ask him privately when these things will take place. And Jesus’ reply exhorts them to hold on and to remain steady, in other words, to possess their souls in fortitude and faith.

When you are apprehensive, or fearful, or in dread of an outcome, remember the Almighty. Remember that God morphs bad events into good outcomes. The Scriptures tell this story over and over again. We gain our fortitude and strengthen our faith every time we read this story in the Scriptures and when we recall that this is the nature of the Almighty. However counter-intuitive it is, we grow in fortitude and in faith when we know, when we realize, that God over and over again takes bad ingredients to make good outcomes. “I have set the Lord always before me; * because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.”[1]


[1] Psalm 16:8.